"Here, make yourself useful and fetch more water." He thrust a couple of pails at her and turned back to his work. She figured she was on her own as far as finding water. She did remember a creek not far from the cave that they crossed to get here.
At the entrance to the cave she paused, wondering if she was breaking a rule by leaving. It shouldn't be an issue so long as I come back she mused and shrugged heading out across the now darkness-blackened grass. She found the water easily by sound, despite the distracting crash of the waves below, and stooped to collect her load. For a moment she thought she felt someone approach from behind, but turning, she saw and heard no one.
"Just the tricks of an unfamiliar place." she muttered to console herself. She filled the buckets quickly and moved as swiftly as she might without losing any of her cargo. In the kitchen dinner looked like it was prepared and the smell of roasted lamb was a compelling reminder of how little she'd eaten that day, a few figs in the morning, and a piece of bread at mid-day. No one had had much of an appetite. But with the fear of immediate danger abated somewhat, the little activity had made her appetite return. Demitri carried the big platter on one shoulder into the hall and she followed with her first set of kettles leaving him at the tapestry room and continuing next door.
Carrying her second set of kettles she mused that none of the rooms she'd seen, nor the halls for that matter were large enough to support the giant, and she wondered then who they might be for. Perhaps he is not the master she considered as she refilled the kettles, perhaps the giant was merely a guard of sorts. Then again he had asked specifically for a bath for himself. It didn't make any real sense to her. She sighed and sat down on a little stool next to the oven and picked at a plate of olives left out by Demitri. A while later, Demitri appeared at the door with an empty wine jug and thrust it towards her. She hesitated and he shook it impatiently.
"Fill it and take it to him, I have better things to do."
She carefully accepted the jug which he all but tossed at her and swept off in some other direction. She filled the tall jug full up and carried it back to the supper room, where she assumed she was meant to go. The door was ajar and she pushed it open with her hip. It was a good thing she did too, for without two hands clutching it she would have dropped the heavy carafe right there on the floor. In front of her, to her amazement, was a miniaturized replica of the giant lounging on one of the wide benches popping grapes in his mouth. Of course he was miniature by no one's standards, looking as though he must still stand nearly eight feet tall, and proportionately as wide. He sat up and held up his glass, taking in her gaping expression with what looked like mild amusement on his not quite human face. This sobered her up a bit and she moved forward, carefully tipping the wine into his cup. She stood back again, still clutching the jug and stared. He watched her over his glass as he drank back the wine, proffering the cup a second time. Silently, she filled it.
"So," he began after settling back onto his bench, "how goes the bath?"
"Well my lord." Her voice sounded a little raspy to her and she swallowed to clear it.
They stared at each other for a while until he waved a hand. "Please, sit. I don't imagine you've eaten anything yet." She walked around the table to sit at the other side. Close enough to fill his glass, but still separated by the table corner. "You can probably put that down." She looked down and noticed she still clutched the jug. With a flush she slid it onto the table.
"Here," he held out his glass to her, and she reached for the jug again.
"No, no, take it, you look like you've seen Hades. Drink." She took the glass tentatively but found once it was to her lips that she was as thirsty as she was hungry. The glass was nearly empty when she finally remembered herself, and she put it down with another flush. He said nothing but finished the glass for her with a toss and refilled it, pushing it back towards her. She remembered to sip instead of gulp this time. And placed it demurely between them, not sure if she was meant to keep it or give it back.
"Go ahead, don't stand on ceremony, I've already eaten." He took another sip out of the shared cup and replaced it in front of her before reclining with an air of satisfaction against the cushioned wall. After she'd satisfied her own hunger, and had had enough wine to give her courage she looked over at him quizzically.
"Can you change your shape at will then?"
"My size yes."
"How is that possible?"
"Many things are possible." She looked down at her now empty plate.
"How large can you become?"
"Not much larger than you've seen me."
"And small?" He opened his arms to present himself. "That's not very small."
"No." He smiled, exposing his fangs again. Wine or no they continued to make her nervous. So she looked around the room.
"At first I thought the bath thing was some sort of evil test." She smiled nervously. "Then I saw the bath, and realized it was just a bad joke...but now..."She gestured to him, "it makes much more sense."
He chuckled and nodded in agreement, "a terrible joke indeed."
"Did you create this place?" she asked, looking around.
"Partially. The caverns themselves are natural."
"How long have you lived here?"
"A long time."
"And these things?" She motioned to the vase and tapestries.
"Collected, or parts of tributes... like yourself."
Her stomach seized a little and her eyes shot over towards him. He'd said no death, but he never said what was going to happen.
Her voice came out in a breathy whisper, "What was your intention for us, for this tribute?"
"Intentions and outcomes often differ." His eyes darkened again like they had when he'd first seen the girls.
"I've never been very patient, and I especially can't abide whimpering and crying." He seemed to become irritated, as if remembering the sight of all those sobbing girls set him on edge. She could sympathize, it set her nerves alight as well. "My intentions were linked with my hopes...which have been...disappointed, as you said. Therefore I'm obliged to consider alternative options." His voice and expression seemed dark and far away, as if, she imagined, contemplating some terrible thought. She reached out a hand involuntarily to calm him touching his forearm lightly. The muscle jumped under her hand and his other arm shot out to grab her wrist. She let out a startled gasp. He released her before she could pull away or apologize. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I wasn't expecting your touch." She swallowed hard and nodded.
"I didn't mean to startle you either." She paused and looked down at the empty cup in front of her.
"Please...my lord, perhaps if you give them some time to adjust, if you let me talk to them they will calm down. They are, after all, very young. We all are." She added after a pause remembering to include herself in that.
"As I noted before, You are not screaming and crying."
She nodded."I'm different though, I volunteered."
He looked at her more intensely.
"And they didn't?"
"No. They were chosen because they were the younger daughters of age, from the largest families." He leaned back and let out a heavy sigh.
"Let me guess, every one of them is a virgin aren't they."
It didn't seem like a question, but she answered anyway. "It would be highly unlikely if one of them were not."
"And you?" He seemed to look her up and down in an appraising manner, as if really looking at her for the first time. She looked down to hide her blush."I'll take that as a yes. Why did you volunteer?"
"To save my younger sister." She answered honestly returning her eyes to his face. "She had better prospects for marriage anyway." He arched a brow at her. "No suitors banging down your door?"
She shook her head, "Men seem to find me somewhat...cold, I lack the graces of my sisters. My father thinks...thought I would make an excellent merchants wife. I wasn't enthusiastic about it myself." Why was she telling him this? It must be the wine. She wrung her hands.
"You seem quite pleasant to me."
She flushed and cleared her throat, rising. "Thank you. I'm sorry my lord I've taken too much of your time. Your water will be ready for the bath by now. Thank you for the supper." She bowed and exited the room hastily not waiting to be excused.
The wine had made her flushed, she shouldn't have drank so much on an empty stomach. She was hot all over. In the kitchen she found the water was indeed ready and she hastened to the bath. He'd already made his way into the adjoining room and had disrobed. She quickly averted her eyes. It wasn't as though she'd not seen a naked man, certainly she'd seen many, it was after all customary for the daughters of well off men to tend and bathe his most honored guests. There was nothing new in this for her, but unlike the body of your average 40 something year old, a giant of a man, an exceedingly well proportioned giant of a man, was rather much to take in without being caught in a blatant wide eyed stare. She kept her eyes on the water until he was safely submerged. She looked up at him and he gave her a knowing smile.
She forced down a blush. "More hot water?" He nodded and she fetched the rest pouring it in slowly until he motioned enough.
There was soap and towels laid out, by Demitri she guessed, which she collected and knelt behind him. She wet the cloth and was about to start when he pulled away and turned to look at her, an incredulous look on his face. "What are you doing?"
Her instinctive response was, exactly what it looks like I'm doing, but that would have been rude, and possibly dangerous... so she ventured tentatively, "helping you wash?"
"Why would you do that?"
She wasn't sure what to say.
"It's what we always do...at home...for honoured guests..."
"Yes my lord."
Was he angry? He was looking at her very suspiciously and she felt as though she'd done something terribly wrong. Would he punish her? "Very well." Was all he said and turned back around, stretching his long arms across the edge of the bath. She proceeded with her work, rubbing his arms and shoulders, massaging them as she went, one of her more appreciated skills, and smiled when she earned an approving grunt. "That feels good."
It better feel good she thought, she'd never worked so hard in her life. Most men she'd massaged were older, and softer. This was like trying to rub the knots out of a tree trunk. Eventually her arms tired and she proceeded to the chest and waist. The front was her little sister's domain. She would chat and flirt and entertain, sometimes getting a little carried away, while Calliope would shake her head at her in mock disapproval from behind whatever besotted man was melting under their fingers.
Her sister was a mystery. Good and chaste in-fact, but seemed wild and sensual in spirit. She remembered how shocked she'd been the first time she'd seen her sister do...That to a man while bathing him, and the way she'd laughed at her shock later that evening when she questioned her. She said it was practice for when she was finally married...she'd never questioned it, what was the point, Helena would just do it anyway. Lost in her thoughts she was smiling distractedly and didn't notice the careful eyes watching her work.
"What ARE you thinking about?"
She started out of her reverie. "Oh, I'm sorry. I have a tendency to drift. I've never been good at small talk...that was my sister's domain.
"That's who I was thinking about just now." She added.
"What about her?" He pressed after she didn't continue.
"Oh just how we used to do this for guests together...I was thinking how she'd always take the front and ...ah, well, um I'd take the back." He didn't press it but gave her a sideways look. She blushed and tried to focus on the task at hand. He and the bath were too big, she'd have to climb in to finish...and gods knew what she'd bump into once she was in. He must have sensed her hesitation and took the cloth from her, continuing her job. She rewarded his kindness by continuing to massage his neck. He paused and groaned.
"Did I hurt you?" She asked softly.
He chuckled. "Not possible."
She smiled at the back of his smooth head. This wasn't so bad. He seemed nice enough, kind even.
Normal...if you weren't looking at the two curved horns at his forehead, or those strange amber eyes. Things could be much worse.
"You're very close to you sister."
"Yes. Her name is Helena."
"Tell me more about her."
She complied happily. She loved to talk about her sister, her charm and beauty, her easy manners and gentle spirit.
She rambled on easily and he seemed interested to hear it, interjecting questions when appropriate. After a time he reached up and laid a hand on hers, the sensation sent a little lightning bolt up her arm and through her body, startling her.
"You care very much for her don't you."
"Yes," she said softly her eyes on the hand that covered hers.
"Was she the one you saved from me?"
She felt a stab in her stomach. At first she thought it might be fear, but she realized, strangely, that it was more like guilt.
"Yes." She said, this time no more than a whisper.
"This makes you sad."
"No..I mean, I.." What could she say? "No, it was good that I came, took her place...but..." She paused. "I know it's strange, but you, you would have liked her better I think."
He turned around to look at her. She sat back on her heels, hands resting on her knees.
"Are you saying you feel guilty because you deprived me of a more entertaining bath?"
"Yes..." she paused thinking about it, "That is what I'm saying. Odd isn't it?" She quirked a smile at him. He didn't seem as frightening when he had that expression of surprise and disbelief strung across his features. It was almost funny.
"I'd say so." He turned around again leaning against the edge. With his shoulders back and lowered she had a clearer view of his lap, and the water hid very little from this angle. The sight made her swallow hard. I could try it, she thought, looking at his lap warily...do what my sister does. It was so much bigger than the others though, even soft it lay heavily against his massive thigh like some sleeping serpent. And she'd only ever seen her sister do it, not done it herself. How would she even begin? She sighed.
A sudden thought occurred to her. He seemed disappointed by the idea that he was sent virgins. Could it be because...
"Sir," her hands were back on his shoulders, "what's so terrible about virgins?"
"What isn't?" he rumbled. "I will never understand the human fascination with virgins. No other animal cares, hell most seem to go the other way entirely." He sighed and shook his head. "It makes no sense."
"Is there something else you'd prefer?"
"Damn right" he growled. She saw his member twitch beneath the water. She felt warm again, though this time she wasn't sure it was the wine. She recalled how flushed her sister had become when she was going to...to do that. She was sure why he wanted them, for the most obvious reason a man would want a dozen or so young women, and why a couple prostitutes might have been a better choice than twenty vestils. She hadn't thought about it knowing he was a giant. But now that he was a more...reasonable size, it was the only answer.
She was working down over his shoulders to his chest. As she moved down, her breasts grazed his back causing another much more noticeable shock to run through her. She could feel the colour rise in her face. Her lips felt dry and she ran her tongue over them. She noticed also that he was beginning to stiffen under the water.
He seemed to tense up under her, she had to keep him talking, relaxed, if this was going to work. She was certain this was the crux of his disappointment, and for everyone's sake she hoped she could diminish it.
She pulled away slowly and stood, tucking her hem up into her belt so that her legs were bare from mid thigh down, and stepped into the tub, lowering herself onto her knees on the bench beside him. He gave her a look of alert weariness that bordered on alarm. She attempted to ignore it.
"Well?" she asked as she matter of factly began massaging his legs, carefully avoiding touching him anywhere else.
"Well what?" His voice rasped, sounding even thicker and deeper, which was impressive considering how deep it already was. The sound inflamed the growing warmth that had begun building inside her, and her body, especially her stomach and thighs, began to tingle with sensation. It wasn't totally unfamiliar, or unpleasant. She'd felt this way before, but it was another feeling entirely this close to another person, especially this creature, who hours before she thought might devour her. And he was so intimidating as it was. His sheer size and height was frightening, never mind the...other factors.
She tried to keep her hands from shaking.
"Well, is there someone, or something else that would have been better? Perhaps you might recall the guards and make a trade." Her hands were traveling up his thighs. She couldn't bear to look at him now, see him looking at her, but she heard him hold his breath.
"Perhaps" He rasped again, his legs tensed to iron beneath her fingers and she heard a sharp intake of air as her thumbs grazed sensitive flesh at the base of his now very erect penis. She looked at it, staring openly; there was no reason not to. No going back. Not just because she thought she should. She didn't want to go back. She was surprised by how much she actually wanted to touch it, and by how its twitching incited her to keep going. It helped that she hadn't looked in his eyes. It was so long, and so thick, riddled with twisting veins, she'd never seen anything like it. Too big, far too big, she thought, suddenly apprehensive again.
She breathed deeply and gently brushed the length of it with her finger tips. It sent shivers up and down her spine and straight between her legs. Too late now, she thought, and wrapped her fingers around the center of the long rigid shaft, squeezing gently. She was surprised and oddly pleased by its smooth silky texture, and the way it pulsed against her palms with a throbbing warmth. She dared a glance at his face.
He was looking right back at her, his eyes dark and questioning, but he made no motion to stop her. She licked at her dry lips again and turned her attention back to the monster in her slender hand. She had never considered herself particularly dainty, but he made her hand look positively tiny. She thought of the giant serpent rumour she'd heard and chuckled inwardly. This might account for that. She ran her hand lightly up and down the shaft feeling it buck beneath her touch. She adjusted herself, sitting next to him, no longer caring if her dress was soaked and wrapped both hands around the dancing cock. She squeezed and tried to remember how Helena had done it. Helena had always used one hand, but that wouldn't suffice here as she couldn't get her fingers all the way around him, so she began slowly stroking the length of him with both hands, unsure of the effect. As she ran her hands up over the swollen head and back down over it again, squeezing gently she was rewarded with a low moan. She looked back again to see him sitting with eyes closed, and his lips slightly parted over those long teeth. They didn't seem to bother her so much anymore. She took heart and repeated the long slow stroke a few more times until his breathing become ragged.