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Story Notes:

Here's the next chapter in the saga of my miniature heroes. This is the final volume. These stories have kind of evolved beyond just giantess fetish at this point. So fair warning, in addition to the tiny people and sexy giant ladies, there is a lot of fantasy, pseudo-history, and (gasp!) plot in this. If that's not your thing, sorry. If it is, welcome aboard!

Author's Chapter Notes:

Not a lot of giantess stuff in this first part, due to some backstory to go through. But that kicks into gear in part 2.

The League of Homunculi Book 5: The Wasteland

By Pixis

The Legend: In the days of good King Arthur, the magician Merlin summoned to Britain a collection of the smallest individuals known to man. These he offered to the king as spies, a secret network of miniature heroes undertaking missions against the Round Table’s enemies. Merlin called this strange menagerie…the League of Homunculi.

Roll Call:

Tom Thumb: Arthur’s court dwarf, an honorary Knight of the Round Table.

Thumbelina: The smallest woman in the world and Princess of the Flower-Faeries.

Issun-boshi: An inch-tall samurai from the distant East.

Thumbling: A tiny tailor seeking his fortune in a very big world.

Hop o’ My Thumb: A Gaulish rogue with a pair of mystic seven-league boots.

Part 1

“It’s coming!” the lady shrieked. “The Day of Destiny! The eve of many night falls!”

Nimue, High Priestess of Avalon and Lady of the Lake, ran fitfully about the chamber she shared with her husband, Sir Pelleas. The two had been wed for a number of years and had been blessed with a beautiful son named Guivret. For a time, their life was blissful and filled with joy. The endless summer of the isle of Avalon was like living in paradise, and the couple could think of no better place to start a family. Yet despite this, Nimue’s past sins continued to haunt her.

Years ago, she had inherited the powers of Merlin, Arch-Druid of Britain, after stealing the wizard’s secrets and trapping him forever in an enchanted tree. Though she later saw the error of her ways and sought atonement for this crime, it seemed that the gods were not yet satisfied. Merlin’s wondrous magic was at Nimue’s disposal, but so were his prophetic visions of the future. And this latter power was one that the young enchantress was not yet prepared for.

“The gory queen weeps bitter tears,” she screamed, “and the rivers fill with blood and steel!”

Nimue perceived a growing darkness in the heart of Britain, a spreading rot that threatened to destroy the age of chivalry and peace that her liege, King Arthur, had created. And as the culmination of these predictions grew nearer, so too did her visions come with greater frequency and intensity. Sir Pelleas had watched his wife slowly lose her grip on what was real and what was hallucination. Day after day, madness began to overtake her.

“Nimue, you’re speaking in riddles again,” Pelleas said, as calmly as possible. “I don’t understand.”

Heedless, Nimue began to thrash about on the floor, completely giving in to the visions. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she spoke in a voice only partly her own. “The Lady of Ravens approaches! The Morrigan is upon us and demands her tithe!”

“Morgan?” asked Pelleas. “Does Morgan have something to do with—no. The Morrigan. That’s…an Irish goddess, yes? Of war? Are you saying that war is coming?”

“The Bear and the Fox shall do battle and each shall slay the other!”

“Nimue, please!” her husband cried desperately. “Come back to us. Britain needs you, Lady of the Lake. I need you. Your son needs you. Don’t give in to this!”

Tentatively, he reached out to touch her arm but the glazy-eyed wild-woman instantly recoiled. Nimue gave an ear-piercing howl of pain before falling into a swoon and slumping, unconscious, on the floor.

For a moment, Pelleas could only stare in shock. But this was not the first time his beloved had had such an outburst. The startled knight caught his breath and tried to compose himself, suppressing all his fears and worries for another day. Dutifully, he knelt before his wife and lifted her into his arms. She felt so light, so frail. Pelleas carried Nimue to the bed and laid her down as gently as possible. He stood at her side and stroked her long black hair, now greasy with sweat.

“Sleep, my love,” he whispered. “Get some rest. Perhaps you’ll feel better in the morning.”

But Pelleas knew that she would not.

* * * * *

Such unrest was not felt elsewhere in the kingdom. In fact, the past few years had been filled with relative peace. Camelot’s list of enemies seemed to grow shorter each day. The Saxons had been quiet for some time, content to stay in their own territories. The king’s half-sister, Morgan le Fay, had not been seen for years. Her Sisterhood of sorceresses was disbanded, its members scattered or dead.

With the Round Table’s enemies remaining silent, there were fewer foes to trouble the realm. This had made the knights restless. They were eager for wars to fight, giants to slay, or noble pursuits to occupy their time. And so, Arthur had initiated the Quest for the Holy Grail. Almost every able-bodied warrior of the court was off searching the kingdom for this most sacred relic, seeking glory or enlightenment or to simply carry out the king’s wishes. Camelot’s Table was thus emptied, the castle’s halls quiet and somber.

Like the knights, the League of Homunculi had been idle in recent years. With no enemies to spy upon, they spent most of their time as Queen Guinevere’s personal servants—delivering messages, performing for her at royal celebrations, feeding her grapes on lazy summer days, and so forth. Such mundane tasks were a bit common in their eyes and the little people disliked this new role. Still, they were thankful that they had done their part to bring peace and prosperity to Britain.

One particular day, the tiny folk were gathered about the queen’s pretty, bare feet, dutifully painting each toenail with miniature brushes. Tom, her special favorite, stood upon the back of her hand, painting her fingernails with similar skill. Meanwhile, Thumbelina flitted about the lady’s face on shimmery faerie wings, applying the queen’s makeup.

“Be sure not to miss a spot, my darling mites,” Guinevere called down to the little ones at her feet. Playfully, she wiggled her toes, sending Thumbling sprawling as they collided with his body. She grabbed the minuscule Issun-boshi between her big and second toe, giving him a friendly squeeze.

“I’ve just about had it with this wench,” Thumbling muttered under his breath. “I like a pretty face as much as the next fella but I thought we were past all this cutesy stuff. Arthur knighted us for the gods’ sake! We should be out there adventuring with the rest of ‘em, not being kept as a noblewoman’s pets!”

“Mais oui,” Hop echoed. “It has been a long time since ze League had a chance to show its mettle.”

Issun wriggled his way up between Guinevere’s toes until most of his upper torso was free. He turned to his comrades. “We have played our role,” he said. “A land blessed with peace, security, and simple comforts—is this not what the warrior fights for?”

“I suppose so,” Thumbling admitted. “But I’m just so…so…bored! I don’t know, fellas. Maybe the League’s time is done. If the king doesn’t need us anymore…maybe we should just call it quits.”

“Thomas would not agree to zis,” said Hop. He glanced up at Tom’s position on the hand resting on Guinevere’s knee. “He would never leave ze king. He believes so strongly in ze Pendragon and his dream.”

“That dream came true,” Thumbling shrugged. “The wars are over. The lands of Britain are united. Knights patrol the roads. People can travel without fear of brigands or thieves. Hell, man, I hear some villages don’t even lock their doors at night! What else is there to do?”

“And what of the Day of Destiny?” Issun asked solemnly. The Leaguers exchanged furtive glances. Their mentor Merlin and the priestess Nimue had both foreseen disaster in King Arthur’s future. The League had always meant to discuss this with their lord but could never quite bring themselves to do so. After all, what sort of life would that be for the king—fearful of an inescapable fate, forever waiting for the other shoe to drop? Better to say nothing but to keep a watchful eye out for signs of that terrible day.

“Maybe it won’t happen,” Thumbling offered. “Maybe ‘Lina’s right and the future can be changed by the choices we make. I never really bought all that prophecy hoo-hah anyway.”

“Can we take that chance?” Issun wondered, pulling himself the rest of the way out of the giant toes’ grasp. He hopped down to the floor, careful not to dampen his feet on the freshly painted nails.

“I wish I knew, monsieur,” Hop answered.

High above them, Thumbelina continued to dab at Guinevere’s cheeks with her brush of rouge. On the tiny woman’s scale, it felt like painting a mural on a large flesh-colored wall. The queen was older now, approaching middle age, but she was still a striking vision of loveliness.

Floating to a nearby table, ‘Lina switched brushes and returned to Guinevere’s face to apply some color to her huge, pursed lips. Unexpectedly, the lady puckered her lips into an “O” shape and sucked in a quick breath. Thumbelina was drawn in by this sudden vacuum, dropping the brush and half-disappearing into the queen’s mouth. Soon, only her kicking legs were visible between those rosy lips.

Guinevere giggled at the rather agitated fluttering of wings on her tongue and the kicking of the tiny limbs as ‘Lina fought to get free. After a few seconds, the monarch spat her out into her hand.

“Apologies, ‘Lina,” she said, suppressing a giggle at the sight of the damp and bewildered little poppet. “I couldn’t resist. Faerie dust gives you such a wonderful flavor—sweet and tangy, like strawberries and peaches. Why, another moment and I might have gobbled you up!”

‘Lina’s heart was racing and she tried to keep from shivering. All too well, she remembered their old enemy, Queen Morgause, swallowing her whole in a magic potion. A human’s belly was not a place she had any desire to visit again. Flicking spittle off her wings with a few offended flaps, the tiny woman floated down to the floor to join her friends.

“I am a Princess of the Flower-Folk; not that pampered palace brat’s appetizer!” she hissed at them. Far too often, the League’s enemies teased about—or even succeeded in—eating them. Such were the perils of being so small. “I cannot take this mistreatment any longer!”

“Join the club,” Thumbling told her.

Their complaints were interrupted when the royal herald announced a visitor to the court. Everyone turned and saw a handsome, dark-haired gentleman entering the great hall. He wore a simple green tunic adorned with the symbol of a red apple. But the finely crafted sword at his side identified him as a knight of the realm. The king and queen were elated when they recognized the stranger.

“Pelleas!” Arthur declared, rising to meet him and clasp hands. “My friend, it has been too long! I thought you had quite vanished into Avalon’s mists!”

“Aye, that I did, my liege. For a time,” Sir Pelleas said. A hint of sadness hung on every word. “It is from the Blessed Isle that I have come, though not with happy tidings. Nimue is quite ill. I…I fear I may lose her.”

“Nimue ill?” Arthur repeated.

“Merlin’s power is too much for her,” continued Pelleas. “The visions are driving her mad. Our son is terrified of his own mother. And even now, the women of Avalon are vying for Nimue’s post as High Priestess. They do not think she will last the season.”

“How dreadful,” Guinevere gasped. “The poor woman.”

“This is dire news indeed,” said Arthur.

“Nimue dying?” Tom called from Guinevere’s knee. “I am sorry for you, Pelleas, but perhaps this is God’s justice.”

“Tom!” the queen exclaimed. She stared down at the wee creature in shock.

“Have you all forgotten that it was Nimue who took Merlin from us?” Tom said. “It’s because of her that he’s trapped for all eternity in that damn tree! Now the powers she stole from him turn against her. The Lady of the Lake reaps what she has sown.”

Pelleas stormed forward, looming over Guinevere’s lap. His brow was knit in anger as he peered down at Tom. “I would stab you through the heart for that, sirrah, were it higher than my ankles! You will not speak of my wife this way.”

“At ease, Pelleas. Stay thy hand,” Arthur insisted. “Tom, that was uncalled for. Nimue committed a great crime, yes, but she has repented. The Lady of Avalon took Merlin’s place as my advisor and has done her best to fill the gap her actions left. If not for her, we might never have defeated Morgan’s last scheme.”

Tom folded his arms across his chest and sat in a huff on the queen’s leg. The loss of Merlin, his creator and mentor, had left a hole in Tom’s heart that could never be truly filled.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” the king asked.

“Perhaps,” Pelleas said. “I came to inquire how the Quest of the Grail fares. Avalon’s wisewomen believe that the holy chalice could purge the madness from Nimue and heal her mind.”

“Alas,” sighed Arthur, “it has not been found. And I have no further knights to assign to this task.”

“Oi! Your majesty!” Thumbling called from the floor. “We could give it a shot!”

“What’s that, Sir Thumbling?” the king said, leaning down to hear him better.

“It’s been years since the League’s had a mission! We could go find this magic cup o’ yours.”

“A noble gesture,” Arthur said. “But what makes you believe you can succeed where my greatest knights have failed?”

“Because our cause is just, mon roi,” Hop called up to him. “Ze others seek ze Grail for glory. We seek it to heal a dying friend. Surely, God would smile upon such a goal.”

“Most believe the Grail to be somewhere in the Wasteland,” argued Arthur. “That is no place for little folk such as you.”

“It surely is not,” Guinevere agreed. “Wouldn’t you rather stay here with me?” She slid her bare foot across the floor towards the gathered little people. Thumbling cringed and Issun quickly backed away, lest that colossal appendage run him over.

“No, your majesty, to the Wasteland we shall go,” Thumbelina announced. “The need is great and the League will answer the call. Right, my brothers?”

“Right, ‘Lina!”

“Oui! Just so.”

“Right, Tom?” Thumbelina said more pointedly, floating up to the queen’s knee.

Tom said nothing for a moment, but let out a quiet sigh. “Yes…I suppose,” he finally said. “We will do what must be done.”

“I do not think this wise,” Arthur told them. “But I have rarely had luck convincing you wee warriors to follow my counsel.”

“I must return to Nimue,” Pelleas said. “I dare not leave her side for very long. But if you truly do this, my little friends, may the blessings of all gods, Christian and pagan alike, go with you.”

“It’s settled then,” Hop remarked. “Join hands, Homunculi, and ze seven-league boots shall take us to ze Wasteland!”

* * * *

The history of the Wasteland was a sad one, filled with tragedy and loss. The League still remembered all too well how it began. Its origins lay many years in the past with the traitorous knight, Sir Balin. He was one of Arthur’s finest soldiers until Balin became locked in a blood feud with Viviane, Nimue’s predecessor as Lady of the Lake.

“I will not stand idle while that—that heathen witch roams free!” Balin had declared when Viviane came to court one day. “It’s because of her that my mother is dead!”

“Your mother,” Viviane answered, “sought to join the priestesses of Avalon. When ignorant peasants condemned her for witchcraft and sent her to the stake, none wept so bitterly as I.” The dark-haired High Priestess was as calm and serene as ever, refusing to be bated by Balin’s accusations.

“You brainwashed her!” the knight bellowed. “You corrupted my mother into that satanic religion of yours! And now she is dead because of it!”

“Peace, Balin!” Arthur commanded. “We are all sad for your loss. But you cannot blame Lady Viviane for—”

“I can and I will!” Balin screamed, grabbing a sword from the tabletop.

“Sir Knight, put down that sword,” Viviane said. “That is meant as a gift for the king and bears a powerful enchantment. Only the most selfless warrior can wield it. It could bring ruin to any other who tries.”

“You want the sword, you devil’s dam?” Balin hissed. “You shall have it!”

It happened so swiftly. With an inhuman shriek, Balin lunged, the sword flashing in his hand. Seconds later, the head of Lady Viviane was tumbling over the stone floor. It came to rest before the twin thrones, lying at the feet of the king and queen. Her headless body slumped to the ground, blood pooling around it.

Courtiers gasped and ladies wailed. From a nearby table, the League of Homunculi stared in horror, their tiny garments spattered with Viviane’s blood. Arthur gazed down at the severed head of his friend and advisor.

“Balin,” he whispered hoarsely. “What have you done?”

“Such be the fate of all pagans,” Sir Balin swore, wiping the blood from the sword. “I have avenged my kin.”

Arthur nearly exploded in fury. “Guards! Seize him!” Astonished, Balin took up the sword once more to defend himself from the oncoming knights.

“My court—in my court you do this, Balin?!” the king raged. “This is not our way! Grievances are not solved with the sword, damn you! We were supposed to be better than this! Oh, Viviane…I’m so sorry.”

Balin fought his way through the palace guards, injuring several of the knights. With the tide shifting against him, he fled from the court of Camelot, never to return.

* * * *

As Viviane had warned him, the mystic sword brought further ruin to Balin and all he touched. Fleeing far and wide, he sought refuge in Castle Corbenic, the rumored resting place of the Grail. But its lord, King Pelles, would not shelter the knight when he learned of the blood on his hands.

“You will find no sanctuary here, murderer,” Pelles growled. “Lady Viviane was a true friend of the realm.”

A dispute followed, then a small skirmish, and in the struggle, Balin stabbed Pelles through the thigh. The aged Fisher King still carried the wound all these years later.

“There’s for you, dotard!” the knight said. “I need no sanctuary from the likes of you!”

But Balin had not counted on the magic of that strange castle or its guardian. The king and the land were mystically linked and when he wounded him with that “Dolorous Stroke,” Pelles’ entire kingdom became similarly wounded. The realm of the Fisher King had once been beautiful and green, blessed by the Grail’s power. But it soon began to rot, transforming into naught but a blighted wasteland.

Balin’s wave of destruction was finally halted by his half-brother, Sir Balan. Both died in the battle, the magic sword claiming its last victims. But by then, the damage was done.

* * * *

The League stood before the border of the Wasteland. Black, gnarled trees towered over them, stretching toward a heaven they could never reach. A dense, grey fog rolled over the land ominously. Yet, the ground itself was dry as a desert, the ruined earth cracking in many patches. Far in the distance, strange, dim shapes seemed to move in the fog.

“Well, lads and lady,” Tom said, “this is our road. Still want to do this?”

“We have to try,” Thumbelina muttered. “For Nimue.”

“Hell,” Thumbling swore. “It beats dancing like clockwork monkeys for the queen. Let’s see what this place is made of.”

The League joined hands and set forth into the mist.

To be continued...

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