Wynston of the Ward leaned upon on his quarterstaff. He was locked in single combat with his most persistent foe—sleep. Wynston was bored. So very bored. Every few moments, he felt his eyelids drooping, his head beginning to nod. It was only a matter of time before his old enemy would get the best of him.
As shire-reeve of the town of Lesser Albion and the surrounding county of Lesser Albionshire, Wynston was charged with keeping the peace. However, Lesser Albion was a small village located in a remote corner of the kingdom. Very little ever happened there. Wynston’s duties consisted of overseeing the tenant farmers and breaking up the occasional skirmish in the pub. That, however, was about it. Most days, he had little to do and he feared that this day would be the same.
Or perhaps not. Watching from the top of his guard tower, Wynston noticed a crowd gathering about a rickety old wagon in the center of the marketplace. Standing before the wagon was an old man in a colorful patchwork cloak. He knew that man, a shameless confidence trickster who traveled from town to town looking for his latest mark. Wynston frowned and headed down the stairs of the tower.
“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen!” the merchant bellowed. “Come and buy me wares! I’ve got gen-u-wine phoenix feathers and petrified basilisk eggs! I’ve got seven-league boots, bottled imps that’ll grant yer wishes, and magic carpets from far Araby! I’ve got potions that’ll bring ye luck, fertility, and wealth! Come one, come—”
“Here now, you old swindler!” Wynston called as made his way over to the wagon. “What are you up to?”
The old man eyed Wynston nervously, taking note of his official feathered cap and his grey uniform emblazoned with the king’s standard. “Up to? Why, nothing at all, sir. I’m but a humble merchant, trying to make a decent honest living.”
“A likely story,” Wynston said. “I know your reputation. Last year, you sold a woman a goose that lays ‘golden eggs.’ The paint was flaking off by the time she got them home! And what about the time you sold Old George some ‘pixie dust’ and told him he could fly? The poor blighter broke his leg jumping off a roof! I won’t have you bilking any more honest folk.”
“Hey, mister! What’s this?” a young peasant boy asked, pointing at a small leather pouch among the items on the wagon.
“That?” said the merchant. “Oh, ye wouldn’t be interested in that, lad. ‘Tis only a bag of…” He arched his bushy eyebrows and made a dramatic gesture with his hands. “…magic beans!”
“Magic beans?” the boy repeated, intrigued. “No foolin’?”
“Yes, indeed,” the old man continued. “I plucked them from the garden of a great and terrible sorceress! At great risk to meself, if I do say so. Their power is legendary. Plant but one of these beans in the ground and up will sprout the biggest stalk ye ever seen! A stalk that will rise into the heavens and take ye to another world—the Cloudlands, a realm of wonder and riches beyond yer wildest dreams!”
“Cor blimey!” the boy exclaimed, wide-eyed.
“Now, wait a minute…” Wynston began.
“Don’t buy those, Osgood!” a high-pitched voice shouted nearby. A scrawny pig-tailed girl pushed her way through the crowd and took hold of the boy’s shoulder. “Do you want to draw the giants here? That’s how we get giants! Everyone knows there’s giants up in the clouds.”
“Oh, piss on you, Sigrid!” the boy said, shaking her off. “There ain’t no such thing as giants!”
“There most certainly is!” the girl insisted, stomping her little foot. “My grand-pappy saw a giant when he was a boy. It destroyed his village. He and his family fled to Lesser Albion. They were lucky to escape with their lives!”
“Aw, your grand-pappy’s an old drunk,” said Osgood. “How much for them beans, mister?”
“I couldn’t possibly part with them!” the merchant said, holding a hand to his forehead and feigning dismay. “They’re far too precious to ever—”
He paused as the boy removed a change purse from his belt and rattled the coins within.
“Then again, ye seem like a smart lad. One with a head for adventure. Since it’s you, my dear Osgood, I could let ye have them for…fifteen pounds?”
“Fifteen pounds?!” Wynston cried. “For a bag of beans? You can’t be serious!”
“Shut up, Wynston!” the boy shot back. “You ain’t me mam! I can do what I want! Gimme them beans, mister! Cloudlands, here I come!”
The exchange was made, much to Wynston’s chagrin, and the boy ran home excitedly.
“There, you’ve made a sale,” Wynston said to the merchant. “Now, clear out of here before I clap you in irons for disturbing the peace!”
Grumbling in annoyance, the old man packed up his wares and re-hitched the horses to his wagon.
“Sakes. Ye try and make an honest living in this world and what does it get ye? Hassled by the reeve. There ain’t no justice, I tells ya!”
* * * *
In the wee small hours, Wynston was once again at his post. He’d taken the night watch (though the only intruders the village ever had were occasional barn owls). It took all his effort not to fall asleep but Wynston was determined to do his duty. Suddenly, he was snapped back to his senses by a powerful tremor. The ground shook so violently that it rattled the foundations of his guard tower. Was it an earthquake? A landslide? He adjusted his feathered cap, hurried down the tower stairs, and sped out the door.
It was still dark, not yet dawn. Wynston rushed into the dim light and was greeted by an astonishing image. On the outskirts of the village was an enormous green beanstalk, stretching high into the air.
“Od’s blood,” he muttered. “The old man was telling the truth!”
The reeve noticed a few early-rising villagers clustered together. All of them were staring into the sky, yet strangely they were facing away from the beanstalk. Wynston found this odd and turned to investigate.
As he did so, his jaw nearly hit the ground. It wasn’t before dawn at all. Something—or rather, someone—was blocking the sun.
Looming above the village was an unfathomably gigantic figure. Wynston’s gaze followed the impossible length of a pair of shapely feminine legs. They were as thick as castle turrets and twice as tall. Wynston craned his neck back and peered higher, spotting a brown leather loincloth. Extending past this garment on either side were round, womanly hips as wide as the roadway. Beyond this was a smooth, bare belly as vast as a cliff face. He tried to look higher, but his view was obscured by the swell of a gargantuan bosom overhead, bound tightly in leather wrappings. Its massive curves would surely dwarf the modest hills of Lesser Albionshire. The face of the colossus wasn’t visible from this angle but Wynston thought he could see wisps of brown hair flying in the morning breeze.
The legends were true. There were giants in the sky. And one was on his doorstep.
As the panicked villagers ran about like headless chickens, Wynston peered up at the towering being. He tried to guess just how big she was. She was taller than the mightiest trees of the border forest, taller than the king’s castle. She looked about the size of Old Cloudycrown, the only mountain in Lesser Albionshire. That would put her at, what? At least a hundred and—nay, two hundred and fifty feet tall?! How could anything that large even exist?
So far, she hadn’t moved. The giant seemed to be simply watching the village in fascination. All around Wynston came the cries of the panicked populace.
“A giant! A giant has come!”
“We’re all going to die!”
“Run, you fools! Flee for the hills!”
“You see the size of them legs? She’d overtake us in two steps! We’re done for!”
As people scattered and pushed past him, Wynston forced himself to take his eyes off the giant woman. He was reeve of this shire and it was his job to get control of the situation.
“Listen to me, all of you!” he shouted. “Return to your homes! Lock your doors and go down to your cellars! The town guard and I will take care of this. Damn it all, where are my men?”
Lesser Albion had only a small volunteer force of guardsmen that served under the reeve. But he’d take any help he could get at this point. “Guards! To me! That’s an order!”
It was no use. His fellow guards were no doubt hiding in their cellars as well. If nothing else, he had hoped to send a few of them out the town’s back gate to bear a message to the capitol. If the giant was hostile, he knew they had no hope of defeating her. They’d need the king’s army.
“Stay calm!” Wynston wasn’t sure if he was addressing the villagers or himself with this pronouncement. “I’ll, um…I’ll handle the giant!”
“Handle her?” the burly town blacksmith said incredulously. “What are ya gonna do? Stub her toe?”
Wynston’s sense of confidence was evaporating by the minute. But he knew his duty. “I’ll try to make contact. See if she can be, er, reasoned with.”
“Your funeral, mate,” the man said. He hurried into the smithy and barred the door.
A thought suddenly occurred to Wynston. “Osgood! Where’s Osgood?!”
“Over here,” the boy called from the doorway of a cottage. Wynston rushed to him at once, inspecting the boy for injuries.
“Are you hurt, lad? You didn’t try to climb that beanstalk, did you?”
“I-I thought about it,” Osgood stammered. “But then I remembered I’m scared o’ heights.”
“Scared of heights?! Then why the bloody hell did you buy those—?” Wynston slapped a hand to his head and took a deep breath, composing himself. “Never mind. You’d best get inside, boy.”
When he turned to look, Osgood was already back in the cottage. Wynston heard the click of an old lock. He looked around him and saw that the other villagers had similarly fled. Wynston was alone.
He steeled his nerves and prepared to march for the town’s front gate. He needn’t have bothered. It was then that the giantess began to move.
Wynston watched in morbid fascination as a titanic leg suddenly started to rise. The giant woman stepped casually over the town’s protective wall, crossing a barrier meant to repel invasion as easily as one might walk over a fallen branch.
With a resounding crash, her humongous foot touched down upon the village street—landing just short of where Wynston was standing. The ground trembled with this mighty impact, causing the reeve to stumble and fall onto his rump. The size of the immense appendage before him caused him to gulp in terror. It was easily longer than a fishing barge. She was barefoot, a sight which only reinforced her staggering scale, for her littlest toe was nearly as large as Wynston’s entire body. The larger toes dwarfed him completely like massive boulders.
His gaze was so fixed upon that mammoth foot that he failed to notice a pair of huge eyes drifting his way. The giantess had spotted him.
“Oops!” a dulcet voice boomed in the sky. “I almost stepped on you, little fella! Sorry about that.”
Wynston’s ears perked up. The giant had spoken. She wasn’t simply a dumb brute. And she seemed apologetic even? Perhaps she could indeed be reasoned with. Moments later, she stooped down. Wynston tried not to scream as her tremendous form loomed over him and a dark shadow eclipsed his world.
The petrified reeve felt the pads of two mighty fingers pinch his sides. His stomach lurched as she stood up straight, carrying him into the heavens. The wind rushed in Wynston’s ears and his head swam. At last he was deposited on the soft plane of her outstretched palm.
From this perspective, Wynston could finally see her face, as his view was no longer obscured by the jutting promontory of her chest. Blinking dumbly, he peered up at a strikingly beautiful visage the size of a hill. Two lovely eyes stared back at him, each as big and blue as a pond. Below this was a long, well-formed nose with dark flaring nostrils that looked like they could almost inhale a man entirely. Further down, Wynston gasped at a positively massive pair of lips, full and round and painted a vibrant pink. When the giantess grinned at him, her mouth stretched unsettlingly to a length greater than Wynston’s body. He gazed at a wall of huge white teeth the size of tombstones, each so smooth and shiny that the reeve could see his reflection in them.
“Aren’t you just adorable?” she cooed at him. Wynston felt her thunderous voice reverberating in his chest and the warm breeze of her breath swept over his person. Though momentarily struck dumb, he shook himself suddenly and remembered his task.
“Excuse me, m-miss,” he stammered nervously. “My name is W-Wynston of the Ward, duly appointed reeve of this shire. Your presence is creating quite a stir and f-frightening the villagers. Might I ask your, er, intentions?”
“I am Blunderbora of the Cloudlands,” the giantess replied. “But everyone calls me Bora. You have naught to fear from me, little one. I mean no harm. I’m merely exploring your precious, tiny kingdom.”
“I see,” said Wynston, not at all sure if he believed this. “Well, do try and be cautious, madam.”
“Oh, I shall,” she insisted. “This is so wondrous! When I found that strange beanstalk sticking out of the ground, I remembered my grandmother’s stories. I only half-believed them but curiosity got the best of me. It was a long climb but, lo and behold, here I am in the land of the little folk! You’re real after all!”
Bora lifted her other hand and placed a huge thumb, tip downwards, next to Wynston. The digit was twice his height.
“You’re even smaller than I imagined!” the giantess said breathily. “You can’t be much more than an inch high, an inch and a half at most!”
Wynston’s pride got the better of him. He cleared his throat pointedly. “I’ll have you know, miss, that I am five foot and ten inches. A quite respectable height.”
Bora giggled at this, sending more vibrations through Wynston’s bones. “I shall try to remember,” she said, “that in this world I am the aberration. Gods, I must be the size of a mountain to you. Imagine that, a human mountain! Why, if you were to climb from my toes to the top of my head, it would surely take you hours!”
She glanced down at her figure with a mischievous smirk. “And I daresay there’d be a few…obstacles along the way.”
Against his better judgment, Wynston found himself at the edge of her palm, his eyes following her gaze. Awestruck, he took in the vast acreage of the giantess’s body below. Or tried to. Once again, he found his view obstructed by her ample bosom. From his present height, the reeve realized could see straight down her leather top and into the capacious canyon between her monumental breasts. It was a rather ominous void that looked vast enough to swallow him up, should he lose his footing. Blushing, Wynston took a step back.
Bora swept her eyes over her form once more, seemingly lost in thought. “My, what a perilous trek that would be for you.”
Wynston gulped. Did she mean to test that hypothesis? He wasn’t sure if he was terrified or excited by the prospect. “I…I’m afraid I have little skill for…mountaineering, miss,” he said.
“Indeed?” the immeasurable woman asked. “Pity. Well, speaking of perilous treks, my own journey took a lot out of me. Why don’t I find somewhere to sit down so we can get better acquainted?”
“Sit down?” Wynston repeated. “I’m not so sure that’s—whoa!”
The reeve lost his balance and tumbled into her hand as the giantess began to move. Carefully, she made her way down the main thoroughfare of the village, her tremendous feet cracking the cobblestones with each step and leaving deep, trench-like footprints. The street was narrow and decidedly not built for her dimensions. As such, the giant woman was rather cramped between the rows of houses and shops. Her movement was restricted so she took small (by her standards) cautious steps, weaving her way between the dollhouse structures. As she passed, her meaty calves scraped against the sides of the buildings, knocking loose bricks and woodwork.
Wynston peered over the edge of her hand with dread, watching the damage unfold. Several hundred feet below, he saw the dot-like forms of villagers fleeing before her booming footfalls. Every so often, one would stumble to the ground and Wynston’s heart caught in his throat. But to her credit, she was careful not to step on anyone, pausing in mid-stride as they scurried away.
After this had happened a few times, Bora began to get playful. She dipped her foot downwards towards a fleeing villager and nimbly caught him between her big and second toe. From his higher altitude, Wynston couldn’t hear it but he was certain the man was screaming bloody murder. At the very least, he was squirming like mad.
“Gotcha! Hee hee hee! That tickles!” Bora giggled. She involuntarily scrunched her toes, a reflex that squeezed the villager tighter.
“Miss Bora, have a care!” Wynston called. “You’ll crush him!”
The reeve watched the scene below and felt a chill run up his spine. This female colossus had overpowered a full-grown man with only her toes, the smallest extremities of her anatomy. His imagination lingered on the destruction she could wreak with the rest of her person. Wynston was glad that she appeared to be gentle. He doubted the full force of the king’s army could have harmed her if she was not.
Reluctantly, Bora released the grip of her toes and let the man tumble back onto the road. He laid there for a moment, seemingly winded. But a nudge from the giantess’s big toe sent him bolting away.
At last, she arrived at the largest structure in the village—the town hall. This was one of the few buildings in Lesser Albion that stood more than one or two stories high, incorporating the mayor’s lavish quarters on its upper floors. Without a second thought, Bora plopped her enormous, round backside onto the roof, taking a seat. Wynston could hear the building creak and groan under her weight. He wondered if the mayor was in residence and what sort of view he was getting from within the hall.
The giantess was holding her hand level with her prodigious chest and, once again, the reeve couldn’t help but stare at those vast mounds of flesh and the intimidating chasm between them. Bora noticed his gaze and began to laugh, causing those magnificent hills to quiver.
“You can look but I wouldn’t get too close,” she said. “A little man like you could get lost in there.”
Wynston was contemplating that idea when the giantess suddenly bent forward to inspect something on the ground. Her hand dipped down and scooped an item from the road. As she sat back up, Wynston noticed a wooden wagon filled with apples gripped between her fingers. The farmer had thankfully long since fled. The humongous woman eyed the contents of the cart hungrily. The apples were positively minuscule compared to her, smaller than chickpeas, but their aroma and glossy red color were appealing. Wynston heard a low rumble emanate from her belly some sixty feet below him.
“Hardly more than a mouthful,” the giantess said ruefully. “But I could use a snack.”
Bora licked her lips and brought the cart up to her mouth. She opened wide and tipped the wagon slightly, allowing the apples to tumble into her vast maw. The air was punctuated by loud crunching noises, followed by a mighty gulp. Wynston looked on in awe as Bora swallowed an orchard’s worth of apples in one go. She opened a leather pouch on her belt and deposited the empty cart within.
“Souvenir,” she explained.
Bora stooped down once again and collected a few more such souvenirs—a broken flagpole, a wheelbarrow, some farming tools, even a life-size bronze statue of the king. All went into the pouch. Wynston was about the admonish that these did not belong to her but thought better of it.
“Got anything to drink in this town? I’m parched,” the giantess said. Before Wynston could answer, she caught sight of the local pub. Still holding him in one hand, Bora slipped down from the rooftop, dropping to her knees with a crash. The pavement cracked and split with the impact. She placed her free hand on the ground and leaned down to inspect the tavern. She was disappointed to find that the front door was too small to admit her hand within. Instead, she crawled around to the side of the building and spotted the large wooden cellar doors.
“Aha!” she exclaimed. “Bet that’s where they keep the good stuff!”
The giantess pried open the doors carefully and stuck her arm inside until it vanished up to the elbow. Unable to see what she was doing, Bora felt around experimentally. She finally retracted her hand, grasping a fistful of wine barrels. Sitting up straight, she lifted her prize and popped the barrels into her mouth like a handful of grapes. She was about to chomp down on them when her eyes went wide with alarm.
“What’s wrong?” Wynston asked.
Bora brought the hand holding Wynston close to her vast, rosy lips. Wrinkled pink flesh filled his vision until she opened her enormous mouth. A wave of hot air assaulted him. The nervous reeve peered into those cavernous jaws, uncertain if this was to be his destination as well. Inside, he saw the wine barrels rolling about on the slick, red carpet of her tongue. Mixed in among them however was a terrified bar-maid, her dress and hair slick with saliva. The poor girl must have been checking the inventory in the cellar (or, he thought with embarrassment, she had fled there at his own instruction).
“H-help me! Please!” the blonde woman implored, crawling across the slippery muscle towards daylight. Wynston stared at this bizarre sight. She looked so tiny and helpless in that cavernous mouth, dwarfed by rows of boulder-like teeth and a stringy strand of saliva twice her height. It was a stroke of fortune that Bora had felt her squirming. The giantess could have easily swallowed the girl whole in a single gulp.
Gingerly, Bora reached into her mouth with two fingers and retrieved the young lady. She set her gently in her hand beside Wynston. The moistened maiden clung to him fearfully.
“Is, uh, anyone else in there?” the giantess slurred through her mouthful. She opened wide once again, her jaws stretching to a length greater than Wynston’s height. Ignoring his fear, the reeve peered inside and saw only the wooden barrels.
“All clear,” he called.
At once, the immense mouth slammed shut. Bora began to chew up the barrels with a horrible, rending, crunching sound. She gave an appreciative moan as their sweet juices were released. The bar-maid buried her face in Wynston’s shoulder, sobbing. After a moment, there was another audible gulp as the giantess swallowed the wine and the remnants of wood.
Bora looked down remorsefully at the shivering woman in her hand. “Perhaps it would be best if I depart now,” the giant said. “Before I accidentally hurt someone.”
Lowering her hand, she allowed the frightened girl to disembark and flee from the scene. Wynston was about to do the same when she pinched the back of his shirt with her fingers. The giantess lifted him up to dangle before her face.
“You know,” she said coyly, “souvenirs are nice. But the only way anyone will believe I’ve been to the land of the little people is if I bring back…a little person. What say you, Wynston of the Ward? Fancy a vacation to the clouds? I promise to bring you home again in one piece.”
Wynston stared into the twin pools of her beautiful blue eyes. She bit her gigantic lip cutely with a pleading expression.
“That…that could be nice,” the reeve admitted.
“Yay!” Bora cried out. “Oh, darn. My pouch is full. Wherever shall I put you?”
With a mischievous wink, the giantess dangled Wynston above her colossal chest. She released her grip and allowed him to tumble into the deep crevasse of her cleavage. Wynston slipped into this chasm and vanished from sight, tumbling down through a narrow tunnel of flesh.
“Enjoy the ride, little man,” Bora said, patting her bosom and sending an earthquake through Wynston’s new surroundings. She turned back towards the beanstalk.