The Beautiful Princess and the Little Frog Prince by G TSteptoe 2004 (Note: Parental Guidance! This is NOT a story for children! If youhave accessed this story via a websearch for an innocent fairy tale,please be warned that it contains scenes of extreme and graphicviolence and material of a sexual nature and is suitable for mature,enlightened readers ONLY. If you feel it may be offensive to you,please EXIT now!)Once upon a time there was a beautiful young princess. She was justold enough to marry, but no prince had yet been found who wassuitable for her. While the search went on day by day, PrincessJoanna lived a quiet and fairly lonely life, studying every morningwith her tutors and (when the weather was fair) going for walks inthe royal forests in the afternoons. She loved her walks because itwas the only time that she could be truly alone. As the borders ofthe forest were well guarded by her father's soldiers she didn't evenneed a personal escort, and could just enjoy herself as she wished,strolling along and breathing the fresh air.
This particular early summer day Joanna was feeling quite downcast asshe slowly walked along one of the forest paths. Only a few hoursearlier, messengers had brought word that a prince from a far-offkingdom had gone missing just after he had begun his journey to visither own lands. It was a great blow to the princess, because by allaccounts Prince Pavel was handsome, intelligent, and kind, and shehad been looking forward to meeting him and seeing if they at leastliked eachother â€“ which for a royal marriage was about the best aprincess could hope for. She sighed and made her way along the path,scuffing a few leaves aside with her golden sandals and brushing theoccasional small flying insect from her skirt. Then, a glimmer caughther eye, and the princess paused, her eyes widening as she beheld asmall brown frog sitting on a flat stone by the edge of the path. Itlooked like any of the hundreds of little frogs she saw in theforest, but what caught her eye was the t!iny golden crown this frog wore on its head.
Joanna stopped in her tracks and stood for several seconds, staringdown at the little animal with a mixture of fascination andamusement. Why on earth would a little frog have a crown? The frogseemed to return her stare in the way that frogs do, turning itswhole body to watch her as she came closer then knelt down to get abetter look.
â€œYou funny little thing,â€ she breathed.
â€œNot so funny from my perspective,â€ the frog replied in ahigh-pitched croaky voice.
The princess let out a gasp of surprise. â€œYou â€“ you can talk?â€â€œYes, but then I'm not just a normal frog,â€ the tiny amphibiananswered. â€œI'm actually a prince, and I was on my way to visit theprincess who lives in the great castle near this place, when a wickedwitch waylaid me and â€“ and changed me into this froggy form!â€â€œYou â€“ you were coming to visit me?â€ Joanna's eyes opened even wider.
â€œThen â€“ then you must be Prince Pavel!â€The frog looked as surprised as a frog can look. â€œYou â€“ you arePrincess Joanna?â€â€œI am indeed,â€ she smiled. She held out her hand and he saw her royalring. â€œCome,â€ she smiled. â€œClimb onto my hand and tell me your story,and we will see if I can help you.â€The prince did as she bade him, and he began to explain how he hadstarted on his journey over two months before, but on the first nighton the road a very beautiful and young-looking witch had approachedand demanded payment to allow him and his retinue to pass. He knew ofthis witch (who was named Hedvelga) and had heard she had amazingpowers, but because he was the son of the king he saw no reason whyhe should pay anyone to use the road, magic powers or not. So, herefused and demanded that he be allowed by, and without any furtherargument Hedvelga had put a spell on all his guards and shrunk them.
â€œShrunk them?â€ Joanna interrupted.
â€œYes, Hedvelga shrunk them. It was â€“ it was almost beyond belief. Ihad forty guards and their Captain â€“ my best men; the strongest andbravest of all my soldiers â€“ and in one moment she transformed themall, so that they were less than two inches tallâ€¦Not longer than herown little finger!â€Joanna tried to imagine it. Forty-one tiny menâ€¦Hmmmâ€¦ â€œHow â€“ howterrible!â€ she managed to say, even though to her it didn't soundlike such a terrible thing, really. She secretly thought it could bequite useful to be able to make men that small on occasion. However,maintaining her demeanour, she asked, â€œThen what happened to â€“ toyour forty-one â€“ miniaturized men?â€â€œHedvelga walked out onto the path and looked down at my men as theyfrantically ran around on the ground at her feet, then she justsmiled and â€“ and began stepping on them!â€The princess gasped, â€œStepping on them? You â€“ you meanâ€¦She crushedthem?â€â€œYes,â€ the frog sobbed. â€œShe just stood looking down at my poor,crawling and running men as she calmly dabbed them beneath the toe ofher sandal and â€“ and squashed them one by one â€“ effortlessly â€“ justlike a girl stepping on insects!â€â€œWowâ€¦â€ The princess suppressed a smile and amended quickly, â€œImeanâ€¦How â€“ how awfulâ€¦â€ She thought a moment, then asked, â€œDid you nottry to stop her?â€â€œWhat â€“ what could I do? Just her look froze me where I stood. Icould no more stop her than I could move a mountain!â€Joanna nodded. â€œShe bewitched you.â€â€œYes, she had me under her power â€“ and I tell you truly, Princessâ€¦Inever felt so helpless.â€â€œA terrible feeling, I should think.â€The frog blinked miserably. â€œYesâ€¦It was. I ordered the witch to stopat once, but Hedvelga just laughed and trapped another of my guardsbeneath her foot as she said: â€˜Stop? Why should I? These are justlittle crawling things â€“ and there is no law against a girl steppingon little things.' Then she just giggled and crushed the man in onemovement and I â€“ I was too stunned to think of a suitable reply.â€â€œThat'sâ€¦that's not surprising,â€ the princess nodded, apparently lostdeep in thought. She had only considered such images as part of herdeepest, most secret fantasies and never truly imagined such a thingcould be possible, but if what this frog-prince said was trueâ€¦ The frog said nothing so after a few moments Joanna prompted, â€œDidshe â€“ did she crush all of them? All your men?â€â€œYes â€“ except for one that she held beneath her foot for a momentthen released again. She let him crawl away and he escaped into thegrass by the pathway. I don't know why she spared him, but she didâ€¦â€The frog blinked as frogs do, then seemed to shake himself. â€œBut asfor the others, yes. She crushed all of them, one at a time, as Irelated â€“ until there were only seven left. She paused for a momentand I thought she meant to spare them, but then Hedvelga herded theselast seven of my men together, nudging them close with the toe of hersandal as she stood with her arms folded, her face showing faintamusement as she forced them atop eachother into an untidy pile. As Ilooked on, this terrible girl covered them with her foot, then as sheheld them pinned, screaming and struggling beneath her sandal's sole,she regarded me with a look that chilled me to the very core. I â€“ Ifelt that it was me beneath her foot, waiting to be crushedâ€¦â€Joanna felt the frog trembling and listened intently as he continued,â€œShe said that because I had refused to pay to use her path, I wouldhave to pay in another way, and then â€“ then â€“â€ The frog prince pausedfor breath and went on in a breaking voice, â€œThen I heard the soundsas she crushed my loyal guards with a single press of herfootâ€¦Crushed them while she smiled at me! Imagine it!â€ the frogmoaned. â€œAll those menâ€¦trapped and crushed together like beetlesbeneath this witch-girl's sandal!â€The princess licked her lips and felt her heart pounding as herexcitement grew. Her voice shook slightly as she responded, â€œYesâ€¦Ican just imagine how â€“ how it must have beenâ€¦â€ Her hands trembled andshe concentrated on them and willed them to be still. â€œSevâ€¦Seven mentogether, did you say?â€â€œYes, seven. My very strongest men, and she crushed them all...Thiswitch-girl just slowly pressed her sandalled foot down on theirbodies until it was resting flat on the groundâ€¦â€Joanna licked her lips again and whispered, â€œThat must havebeenâ€¦awesome.â€â€œOh, it truly was. But what made it worseâ€¦While she continued lookingat me â€“ smiling all the while â€“ she raised her heel and slowly groundmy men to a smear, as many a girl is wont to do when she crushes anoisesome insect beneath her foot.â€â€œYes,â€ the princess nodded slightly and stared into the distance asshe breathed, â€œI usually doâ€¦â€The frog continued as if she hadn't spoken, â€œThen, without anywarning, she shrunk me as well. One moment I was standing there,taller than she, the next I was cowering at her feet, looking up ather as she towered over me. I wasâ€¦I was sorely afraid that she woulddo to me what she had just done to my men. Hedvelga looked down at mefor long moments, just smiling her soft, knowing smile, for she knewher power, and I â€“ I truly felt like an insect before her. I knewthat she could crush me with a single, effortless step if the whimtook her â€“ and no-one would even know what had happened to me!â€The princess tilted her head inquiringly. â€œSo â€“ at first she justshrunk you?â€â€œYes,â€ the frog returned, and Joanna realized he was actuallyweeping. â€œIf â€˜just' is the right word. I thought that was bad enough,and I steeled myself for the horrible moment when she would trap meunder her foot and press it down on me, and reduce me to just anotherstain on her sandal's soleâ€¦â€â€œBut clearly she didn't,â€ the princess interrupted gently.
â€œNo, although during the lonely, terrifying days since then I oftenwished she had.â€ He paused as if for breath, then resumed, â€œThen shechanged me into the form you see now, and ordered me to hop around.
It was â€“ It was terrifyingâ€¦I had to hop one way then the other as shelaughed and pretended to step on me, time after time after time. Assoon as I stopped jumping, the girl raised her foot and began tobring it down over me as she taunted, â€˜Hop, little frog-prince! Hop,or I'll squash you!' But â€“ but after what seemed a lifetime, she toldme that she had decided to let me live, because it was her whim. Herwhim! It was a horrible feeling, Princess, to know that I would liveor die according to the whim of this witch-girl.â€ The frog struggledto compose himself, and after a few moments he managed to continue,â€œSo, as I said, it was her whim to let me live. She â€“ she then gaveme some words of instruction, and ordered me to go on my way to â€“ toseek you.â€â€œWell,â€ the princess smiled encouragement. â€œAt least you have foundme.â€â€œYes, and I am so thankful. It has been a terrible journey thesesixty-six days. The witch told me that any trials and tribulationsthat befell me on the way were no concern of hers, and that if I werekilled, I would not return to my own form even in deathâ€¦I would staythis size forever.â€ He paused, then looked up at her and finished,â€œOnly you can save me, princess. You can restore me with a singlekissâ€¦â€The young woman blinked. â€œJust â€“ just a kiss?â€â€œThus Hedvelga said. She instructed me that my fate lies in yourhands, and only yours. Whatever happens to me is entirely for you todecide â€“ according to your whim.â€ He blinked sadly and then said in aweak, pleading voice, â€œPrincessâ€¦Please help me. Only you have thepower to release me from this misery. If â€“ If you kiss meâ€¦just once,I shall be a man again.â€Joanna smiled her gentlest, most feminine smile. â€œIt is the least Ican do for. And I shall be glad to behold you in your real, masculineform.â€Placing the little frog on the flat stone once more, the Princessleant down low and kissed him very lightly, then moved back and gotto her feet to await his transformation. After a few seconds' delaythe little frog was surrounded by a strange glow, and then â€“ the frogwas gone, and the prince stood in his place.
The princess looked down at the tiny man in his fine clothes andblinked her eyes a few times as he stood there, looking up at her andsmiling his gratitude. â€œI â€“ I expected you'd be somewhat bigger,â€ shesaid. She paused, and raising her foot a little, she carefully set itdown on the stone next to the miniature prince, comparing him forsize. â€œI mean, you're not even two inches tall.â€â€œI will be normal soon, thanks to you,â€ he called back, his joyfulvoice just loud enough for the girl to hear. â€œIt will take some time,but already the process is begun.â€The princess nodded her relief. â€œOh, that's good to hear. I wasafraid you might remain tiny foreverâ€¦â€œ The prince rushed to her foot and began kissing her toes ingratitude. â€œNot now. You have saved me! Oh, thankyou, Princess,thankyou!â€Joanna suppressed a giggle as she watched the tiny man hugging andkissing her toes. She had the sudden urge to flick him off like anannoying little insect, but somehow kept her composure as sheanswered simply, â€œI'm glad to help.â€â€œOh, I am so grateful to you!â€ He looked up at her as Joanna leantforward a little so that her face was visible to him. â€œTo spend therest of my days as a frogâ€¦It was such a horrible time â€“ mosquitoestaste foul, believe meâ€¦â€The girl giggled this time. â€œI can believe that,â€ she smiled. Thenshe asked, â€œHow quickly will you grow? Have you started yet?â€Prince Pavel climbed down off her foot and stood by it, one handresting on her little toenail to steady himself as he leant back tolook up at her face. Although she was quite a petite girl, Joanna wasstill over thirty times his own size, and to the prince she looked atleast two hundred feet tall. â€œAs I said, the process is begun!â€ hecalled. â€œI only have to wait six times six the number of days that Iwas a frog and I shall then return to normal size.â€â€œSix times sixâ€¦and thenâ€¦But wait,â€ the princess shook her head, â€œYouâ€“ you meanâ€¦You won't just grow gradually?â€He shouted happily, â€œNo, it will happen in an instant, just as I wasshrunk in the twinkling of an eye! So the witch-girl told me, atleast â€“ and as I am still this size, she no doubt told me true.
Look!â€ he turned around full circle, delightedly showing himself fromevery angle, his purple cape whirling. â€œI am in my manly form again,so surely my true size will soon follow!â€Joanna's face showed her concern. â€œButâ€¦Six times six the number ofdays you were â€“â€â€œThat's right,â€ the tiny prince shouted. â€œI never studied arithmeticas I spent all my time learning the manly arts of fighting andswordsmanship, but it does not sound very long, does it?â€ PrincePavel had a fabulous view of the princess, and he grinned up at thebeautiful girl, looking straight up her skirt. Oh, to be normal sizedagain and to have such a girl as his wife! He assumed that theprincess knew little or nothing of arithmetic or the sciences, sosurely she would believe him and care for him until he could marryher. But until thenâ€¦The Prince's smile widened as he gazed up at her,drinking in the sight of her smooth, tanned thighs and richlyembroidered silky white panties. Until then, what fun they couldhave!The princess was not even thinking about what the tiny man could see,let alone any future matrimonial possibilities. His view of her neverentered her mind as more than a mildly amusing thought. It wassomething like being watched by a bug, and no girl ever worries aboutthat. Instead, even as she watched the tiny prince while he gazed upat her, Joanna was calculating silently, her brilliant mind handlingthe simple figures with ease: Six times six is thirty-six, andthirty-six times sixty-six days isâ€¦Two thousand, three hundred andseventy-six days! Her jaw dropped as she worked out the answer, andjust to be sure she did it another way, murmuring â€œSix timessixty-six is three hundred and ninety-sixâ€¦That's one year andthirty-one daysâ€¦And that much times six is six years and one hundredand eighty-six daysâ€¦â€Joanna shook her head in disbelief and felt anger rising within her.
â€œSix and a half years!â€ she said out loud, looking down at theprince. â€œMy Godâ€¦I can't keep a tiny, two-inch-tall man safe and feedand clothe him while I wait six and a half years until he's bigenough to hold me in his arms!â€The prince backed away a little and turned his head to look up at herlovely face. â€œBut â€“ that's not so longâ€¦Is it?â€â€œIt is when you're a princess and life and would-be suitors arepassing you by! Six years? I'll be the laughing stock of the wholekingdom!â€ Her eyes flashed. â€œYou deceitful little thing! Why didn'tyou tell me there was a waiting period â€“ before I kissed you?â€The tiny man backed away another step. He had thought that thissweet, gentle girl wouldn't hurt a fly, but now he wasn't so sure. â€œIâ€“ I didn't think it would matterâ€¦â€Joanna nodded very deliberately. â€œOh, it matters alright. It mattersvery much. You expect a girl like me to wait that long for oneminuscule, insignificant little man to grow up? No, thanksâ€¦â€ The girllooked down at the tiny man, her face set in grim determination asshe began to lift her right foot. â€œI am the only one who has thepower to release you from your misery, you said. Very well, yousneaking little cowardly manâ€¦I shall release youâ€¦Right now!â€The tiny prince let out a gasp of horror as he watched the girl'sfoot rising up into the air above him, the patterned sole of hersandal dark and massive and threatening. He staggered back and criedout, â€œNoâ€¦You can't just step on me! You â€“ you can'tâ€¦â€The princess didn't even bother to respond to his protests. Afterall, she was a giantess to this foolish little man, and she didn'tneed to justify her actions to him. The fact was that she could stepon him if she wanted to, and she had decided to step on him, so thatwas that. As he screamed more protests, Joanna simply smiled grimlyand slowly lowered her foot over him, and ignoring his pleas as ifthey were the buzzings of an insect, she knocked the miniature mandown and pinned him under the sole of her sandal, muffling hisscreams so they were just barely audible. After a moment's pause tosee if any objection rose in her mind â€“ none did â€“ the girl focusedall her senses on her foot and what lay beneath it as she raised herheel a fraction, and unsure of how much it would take (but totallyconfident in the outcome), she very gently pressed her toes down onthe tiny man, her smile flickering as she heard his funny littleinsect-like sounds rise in pitch, then they sudd!enly cut off and â€“Crrittch!Joanna paused and wrinkled her nose in feminine amusement, a verynatural reaction for a girl. It always amused her, the way littlecrawling things produced their funny crunchy sounds when she steppedon them. Those sounds were the essence of the crush, and because(just like any girl) she stepped on little things to crush them, thesounds their tiny bodies made as they collapsed and flattened beneathher gently pressing foot always gave her a feeling of quiet andpleasurable triumph. Then, as she stood poised, the princess realizedthat she had never felt such a surge of awareness as she had justexperienced, and she it came to her in a flash that this was truepower.
â€œI crushed himâ€¦I crushed a little man,â€ she breathed, looking down ather foot in quiet wonder. The girl licked her lips and pressed down abit more (still nothing to her), then grinned as she heard the tinybody produce a very soft but distinctive squitsh â€“ that other soundthat a girl listens for and which tells her that the little thingunder her foot is not only crushed, it is now most definitelysquashed and will never trouble her again. Joanna giggled, â€œIt reallyis just like stepping on an insectâ€¦Only betterâ€¦â€She carefully moved her foot aside and was gratified with what shesaw. The tiny Prince Pavel lay spreadeagled, now very flat and a bitmessy, but not over much. Most bugs his size squished out a lot morewhen she stepped on them. I did that to him, the girl thought, stilllost in the wonder of it all. Just moments ago he was alive andlooking up at me â€“ and no doubt enjoying the view, the little sneak â€“thenâ€¦ Not even realizing she was speaking out loud, Joanna murmured,â€œâ€¦I stepped on himâ€¦I felt him crushâ€¦I just crushed him like a bugâ€¦â€She became aware of her own voice and smiled as she added, â€œAnd thenI actually squashed himâ€¦ How wonderfulâ€¦â€The princess giggled and stepped on her tiny victim again.
â€œCrrusshh,â€ she breathed. â€œI'm crushing you like a bug, little manâ€¦â€The young woman felt a pleasant and uniquely feminine tingling as shepressed down firmly and heard him squish quite juicily beneath hertoes. â€œLike a squishy little bugâ€¦â€Feeling much better than she had at the start of her walk, Joannaabsently smoothed her short skirt as she ground tiny little PrincePavel under her pretty sandal's sole, listening to every nuance ofthe sounds as she literally squished him up into the grooves. â€œMmmmâ€¦I shall have to find this Hedvelgaâ€¦I think we could have a very longand rewarding friendshipâ€¦â€Joanna slipped off her sandal and stood for long moments, tracing herfingers over the sole and studying what little remained of the lateand unlamented prince. â€œAmazing,â€ she whispered. â€œI totally destroyedhim, with no effort at all, just because I wanted to. And nowâ€¦No-onewould even know it was a manâ€¦â€ Deciding she wanted to keep thesesandals just as they were, she removed her other one, then holdingthem idly by the straps she turned and walked away, leaving just adull stain on the rock to show where the tiny prince had been andwhat had happened to him. As the barefooted princess strolled lightlyalong the path back towards her castle home, she said to herself:â€œYesâ€¦Very rewardingâ€¦There are so many men who deserve the sametreatmentâ€¦â€CHAPTER TWOHedvelga Comes to VisitThe same day that she met with the rather foolish little Prince Pavel(and he met his fate beneath her foot), Princess Joanna sent her bestmessenger to find Hedvelga and deliver a letter to her. The letterdid not command the witch in any way, for Joanna felt this was not awise approach. Instead, she informed the myterious woman that thePrincess Joanna would be most appreciative if she could come andvisit for a time as an honoured guest of the Royal House.
Joanna charged the messenger with all speed, but the journey was longand arduous and she knew that it would be several weeks before hereached that distant land, and possibly weeks more before shereceived a reply. The time passed slowly, and the first chill ofautumn was in the air before her faithful messenger returned, bearinga sealed letter from the witch. Joanna received the man in herchambers and rewarded him handsomely, for he had made great speed onhis journey. After dismissing him, she sat in her favourite chair andtore open the seals. Unfolding the parchment, she began to read, andas she read a smile crossed her face.
â€œI am honoured that Your Highness wishes me to visit,â€ Joannaread. â€œSeeing that Your Highness appears to desire my presence assoon as possible, I am even now making my preparations and shallcommence my journey in a few days. I expect to be at the home of YourHighness in just a few days after Your messenger has delivered thismissive into Your hands, and as I have charged him to travel with allspeed and have given him a charm to protect him on the way, YourHighness may expect my arrival on or about the fifteenth of thismonthâ€¦â€Joanna folded the letter and gazed ahead of her. â€œAnd today is thetenthâ€¦So in only five days she should be hereâ€¦â€ The princess thoughtfor a few moments then rang a small bell, and when her handmaidensappeared from their waiting room she instructed them to be sure thatthe best guest chamber was made ready â€“ and also to inform the guardsthat Hedvelga was an honoured visitor and must be allowed to passwith all respect and without delay. The girls curtsied and left atonce to do as she bade them, and Joanna relaxed back into her chair,wondering at the fact that this strange Hedvelga â€“ who had treated acrown prince with such contempt (and actually stepped on his men likeinsects, no less) â€“ would so readily agree to travel for many days tovisit a princess of a somewhat smaller kingdom than where she lived.
â€œNot to worry,â€ she said to herself. â€œI am sure she will have her owngood reasons.â€The princess got to her feet and stretched, and because the weatherwasn't too bad, she put on a wrap, and with a dozen guards and twohandmaidens trailing in her wake, she went for a stroll around thecastle's extensive gardens, stopping here and there to chat to thegardeners and other workers and learn more about their work.
She knew that even her guards found it amazing that she occasionallyspent her time talking to such low-born men and women as gardeners,carpenters, and the like, but Joanna didn't care. After all, ithelped to pass the time, and they worked better for knowing thattheir labours were appreciated. And anyway, she found theminteresting, forthright, honest, and highly knowledgeable in theirown trades â€“ and therefore much better company than many of theruffians in rich clothes who fawned on her at Court and never did astroke of work in their entire lives. Worse, most of the courtierswere so ignorant and disdainful of â€˜the commoners' that it was almostfrightening.
Joanna spent a lot of time with the workers in the castle groundsduring the next four days, and the more she learned of these good,solid people, the more convinced she became that her father's Courtwould not suffer too much from the â€˜loss' of a few of the moresnobbish, bigoted and ignorant courtiers. Passing a sobbing stableboywho was being whipped by his aristocratic master for not polishinghis riding boots well enough, the princess wished that she couldintervene and stop the lad's suffering, but etiquette did not allowit. Except in extreme cases such as rape and murder (and even thenthere had to be witnesses), matters between masters and servants werenot to concern a princess of the Realm. Sighing, Joanna walked on,hoping that before too long, she might be able to do something toeven up the balance more in favour of unfortunates like the poor boyand his brothers and sisters in servitude. After all, most of theirmasters were courtiersâ€¦*Hedvelga arrived early in the afternoon on the fifteenth and wasbrought under honour guard directly to Joanna's chambers. Althoughsome of her wizened advisors had warned her to be extremely cautiouswith the witch â€“ and never to be alone with her â€“ Joanna decided atfirst glance that she had nothing to fear from this woman. Shedismissed the guards and all her handmaidens, and bade her visitor beseated. Hedvelga accepted with alacrity and settled herself into oneof the chairs across from the young princess.
â€œThankyou, your Highness. It is very gracious of your Highness tocondescend to accepting me at once.â€â€œI have waited for you and counted the days, for I am anxious to talkwith you,â€ Joanna replied.
The woman smiled softly and inclined her head, her long black hairgleaming in the autumnal sunlight that streamed through the windows.
â€œMay I be so bold to hazard a guess as to the nature of yourHighness' concerns?â€â€œCertainly,â€ Joanna nodded. â€œI admire boldness. It is a quality Ifind sadly lacking in most.â€â€œEspecially in the Court, your Highness?â€â€œYes,â€ the princess agreed with a smile. â€œEspecially there.â€Hedvelga's eyes sparkled as she flashed her smile, and absentlysmoothing her black velvet skirt, she ventured, â€œSpeaking of royalcourts, then, may I then hazard that your Highness wishes to talk ofthe mysterious disappearance of a certain Prince Pavel and hisretinue?â€Joanna maintained a straight face with some effort. â€œIt could be,â€she allowed. â€œAfter all, it is strange that not only he, but hisentire personal guard of forty men â€“ his strongest and bravest men â€“should simply go missing without trace.â€â€œYesâ€¦It is strangeâ€¦â€ The woman crossed her legs. â€œMay I ask how yourHighness is aware of the number of men in his retinue?â€â€œI wasâ€¦informed,â€ Joanna answered, suddenly feeling a slight unease.
â€œBy â€“ by a â€“â€ She broke off, not yet sure just how much to reveal.
â€œBy a little bird, your Highness?â€ Hedvelga smiled, then said softly,â€œOr, should I say â€“ a littleâ€¦frog?â€Joanna's expression made her giggle, a light, infectious laugh thatbroke the tension. â€œOh, I know your Highness met him!â€ the witchchuckled. â€œOtherwise, why would your Highness send for me with suchurgency?â€â€œYesâ€¦Yes, it's true,â€ the princess admitted, barely able to suppressher own smile. â€œI did meet him.â€Hedvelga smirked knowingly. â€œAnd did your Highness kiss our littlefrog prince?â€Joanna nodded and her voice was the barest whisper. â€œYesâ€¦Yes, I did.
I kissed him.â€â€œAnd then, when he became a man in form once again â€“ but still astiny as the little frog he had been â€“ only then did your Highnesslearn that he had held back much of the truth, and that it would beyears before he would be restored to normal. Am I right?â€â€œYes. He did not mention it until after I kissed him, leading me tobelieve that he would be fully restored at once.â€ The princessthought a moment, then commented, â€œBut perhaps I judged him tooharshly â€“ and â€“ and maybe acted unjustly. He said that he did notknow arithmetic, and that surely the time to wait was not too long.â€The beautiful young witch laughed in delighted astonishment. â€œDid notknow arimethetic, your Highness? But he had the best tutors in theland and often won arithmetical games at Court! He lied; in the mostcunning and cowardly way, he lied! Just as I thought he would!â€â€œAhâ€¦I thought it strange that a crown prince could not do such simplesums.â€Hedvelga watched the princess nod again, and asked, â€œAnd may I askyour Highness where this deceiving little prince is now? Or, to bemore precise, what your Highnessâ€¦did with him?â€Joanna paused a moment before replying, then she shrugged hershoulders as if she had reached a vital decision. â€œI shall show you.
Please â€“ remain seated.â€ Rising from her chair, the princess wentover to a corner of her room and picked up a golden strappy sandal.
Returning, she handed it to Hedvelga, sole upwards, and said simply,â€œTo answer your very reasonable question, I stepped on him.â€Hedvelga took the proffered shoe and peered at it. â€œYes,â€ she nodded.
â€œYour Highness most certainly did.â€ Then she looked up. â€œGood,â€ thewitch said, beaming her smile as she handed the sandal back toJoanna. â€œIt was no more or less than he deserved. â€â€œYou â€“ you don't seem too surprised,â€ Joanna said.
â€œOh, not at all â€“ your Highness. He was a very devious and greedy manand would have made a bad king. And after all, it was a naturalenough thing to do â€“ to step on himâ€¦â€â€œYesâ€¦I â€“ I didn't really think about it. I was angry with him, so Ijust â€“ just stepped on him andâ€¦And when I heard him crush beneath myfootâ€¦â€ She looked the other woman in the eyes. â€œIt felt â€“ right.â€Hedvelga nodded measuredly. â€œI understand exactly, your Highness.â€She uncrossed her legs, and setting both sandalled feet on the floor,she looked down at them and flexed her toes. â€œIt always feels right,â€the witch murmured.
â€œYou speak as if from long experience.â€â€œVery long, your Highness. Your Highness would be surprised at justhow long.â€â€œPerhaps I would not,â€ the young princess responded.
Hedvelga merely smiled, a very self-assured and knowing smile, thesmile of one who knows her own powers and uses them as she sees fit.
It was also a smile of one who is much older in life experience thanshe appears to be.
Joanna was perceptive enough to know that this was not the time toenquire into Hedvelga's real age. Instead, her voice a bare, lowwhisper, she asked, â€œIs it true that you â€“ you stepped on his men?â€â€œYes, it is true. With these very sandalsâ€¦â€ She glanced up and raisedthe toe of her right foot a little off the floor, then set it downwith her heel raised. â€œForty of them beneath this one sandal, infact.â€The princess couldn't help but grin. â€œYesâ€¦I usually use my right one.â€â€œSo I noticed, your Highness,â€ Hedvelga gave back, glancing at thesandal the princess still held in her hands.
Joanna chuckled and placed it carefully on the floor by her chair.
â€œAnd â€“ did you truly crush the last seven men together?â€â€œAh, he told your Highness that? Yes, I did.â€ The woman thought amoment, wrinkling her brow as she absently ran her fingers throughher hair. â€œAt least, I think it was seven. Or was it eight?â€ Shesmiled a shrug. â€œThey were the last ones, anyway.â€â€œThen he told the truth in that, at least.â€â€œOh, he was always one for being truthful in unimportant matters,your Highness,â€ Hedvelga smiled. â€œWell known for it, in fact.â€The princess nodded, deeply pensive. â€œHe told me that you allowed oneto escape.â€â€œThat is true,â€ Hedvelga answered. â€œHe was the youngest, new to theprince's retinue, and the only one whose aura showed that he had asyet done no evil deeds. So I spared him and let him go, yourHighness, blocking the whole incident from his mind. He would havereturned to normal just at dawn, with no recollection of what hadbefallen him or the others.â€â€œAnd the others?â€The witch spoke matter-of-factly. â€œAll the others had robbed andraped and murdered for their master or for their own pleasure, forthey were his favourites and under his royal protection. Evil men,they were.â€â€œAhhâ€¦I see. Is that why you stepped on them, Hedvelga?â€â€œNo,â€ she laughed, â€œI stepped on them because I wanted to.â€ Her toneswere light and her eyes glimmered. â€œ I could have simply struck themdead where they stood or made them turn upon eachother with theirswords, for they all deserved to die, but it amused me, to look downat these tiny, evil men as they crawled around at my feet. It amusedme to crush them like so many insects. His biggest, bravest,strongest men, your Highness, crunching under my sandal and spurtingout little sprays of wetness as I stepped on them one by one andsquashed them flat like juicy beetles â€“ purely because it was mywhim. Oh, yes, it amused me very much to step on such evil men, yourHighness. It always does,â€ she added.
Joanna leaned forward in her chair, elbows on her knees and her handsclasped beneath her chin as she whispered, â€œI â€“ I can imagine itwould, when you have such powerâ€¦â€Hedvelga mirrored her pose, and as they regarded eachother, shemurmured, â€œAnd your Highness would like to possess that power?â€â€œYesâ€¦To be truthful, I would. There are many men who I feel deservethat same punishment.â€â€œThere certainly areâ€¦But as a princess, does your Highness not havethe right to sit in judgement and order men to be put to death?â€â€œNow that I am of age, yes, when my father is away or too busy to trythem. And I have had men put to death from time to time, when theircrimes deserved it, and it has never troubled me, for I am alwaysjust and fair in trying them. But that is different. It is my duty,and I take no pleasure from condemning men to prison or the choppingblock. In fact, it gladdens my heart when I can free a prisoner whohas been unjustly accused.â€ The princess paused, then explained, â€œIam not speaking of those men who have committed capital crimes assuch and deserve to lose their heads for it. I am speaking simply ofthose who â€“ those evil men who deserve to be gotten rid ofâ€¦Whodeserve to be made as small as insectsâ€¦and stepped onâ€¦andcrushedâ€¦like insectsâ€¦â€â€œBeneath your Highness' feetâ€¦â€Joanna moved her head in a barely perceptible nod. â€œYesâ€¦Beneath myfeetâ€¦Or destroyed in any other way I choose, as the whim takes meâ€¦â€The woman seemed far away as she whispered, â€œIt seems such perfectjusticeâ€¦â€â€œYour Highness â€“â€The princess blinked as if coming out of some deep reverie andinterrupted her guest. â€œHedvelga, I would be â€“ I would be pleased ifyou would address me informally. I feel as if we have a certainâ€¦â€ Shestruggled to find the right words then continued, â€œâ€¦A certain levelof understanding that goes far beyond the formality of royalstandards of address.â€â€œI am deeply honoured,â€ the witch responded. â€œI was about to askyouâ€¦If I give you this knowledge, what will your High â€“ what will yougive in return?â€Joanna's eyes showed her delight. â€œYou â€“ you will share your secrets?â€â€œYou have already shared some of your deepest ones with me,â€ thewoman said. â€œI am honoured to be in your confidence. But thisknowledge is immensely precious and takes long hours and months ofstudy to acquire â€“ even years â€“ and hence I cannot give it withoutsome kind of return.â€â€œThat is fair.â€ Joanna furrowed her brow as she tried to imagine whatthe witch could desire. â€œBut I am sure that with your powers you wantfor nothing, Hedvelga. Certainly, I have great riches, but I suspectthat you can make gold from dross if you wish.â€â€œI can. And precious stones from mere pebbles if the fancy takes me.â€Hedvelga said no more; she merely sat and waited to see what theprincess would offer.
The young princess touched a fingertip to her lips and smiled as theanswer came to her. â€œHedvelgaâ€¦I have something that I can offer you,something that very few receive from a princess.â€â€œAnd what is that?â€Joanna's smile broadened as she answered, â€œMy friendship, Hedvelga.
My friendship and everything that entails.â€The witch nodded. â€œYou have named the one thing that cannot, in fact,be bought or bargained for or even truly gained by the casting of aspell, and I feel that you would give it, even if I had nothing togive you in return.â€ She reached out her hands and Joanna claspedthem in her own. â€œI accept, and will do all in my power to give youwhat you desire.â€CHAPTER THREEThe learning.
The two young women spent several hours together every day. Much ofthe time they seemed to just talk and laugh together, and any whoobserved them began to suspect that the stories of Hedvelga weregreatly exaggerated. She was a very lovely, sweet and charming youngwoman, and couldn't possibly have done the things that were rumouredof her. Obviously the gossips had mixed her up with the deeds ofsomeone else. And in any case, would their dear Princess Joanna haveanything to do with a powerful, dangerous witch who cast suchterrible hexing spells and was rumoured to shrink men and crush themand even eat them in her stews?Joanna and Hedvelga went to great pains to ensure that no-one had anyinkling of what they were really doing, and the few hours a day theyspent together in private were the only time that they turned theirattention to the arts of sorcery and all forms of magik. Only thendid they study the books that Hedvelga had secretly brought, onlythen did the witch tutor her avid student, teaching her the chantsshe needed to know and all of the philosophy and mysteries of innerand ancient knowledge that were the true foundations of every spell.
And sometimes, when they needed some light relief from their labours,Hedvelga would go out for a quiet walk in the streets of the townbelow the castle, visiting the inns where the travellers andmerchants stayed, and there work her spells to shrink a few men andbring them back to Joanna's rooms.
Such it was this night. They had studied together for several hoursand finally Joanna successfully performed a simple spell to make aflower open. Hedvelga clapped her hands with glee and the womenhugged eachother, for it was a great step forward. â€œYou have donewonderfully well, Joanna!â€â€œOh, Heddy, I am so glad! It is such a slow process, with so much tolearn. I had no idea how difficult it was.â€The witch smiled, â€œNow you are learning how little you know,â€ sheagreed. â€œIt will still be a year or so before you can perform thehigh-level spells you desire, but you are making excellent progress.â€Joanna gave her another hug. â€œBecause you are such a wonderfulteacher,â€ she laughed.
â€œAnd a good teacher rewards her pupil when she has done well,â€Hedvelga responded.
The princess squeaked with delight. â€œYou mean â€“ you shall bring mesome?â€â€œAt once! Just take a bath and soon I shall return.â€ Hedvelga madesome moves with her hands and disappeared.
â€œI love the way you do that,â€ Joanna sighed, staring where the witchhad been standing.
â€œIn about six months you shall have the same ability,â€ Hedvelga'svoice answered her from across the room by the main door. Then thedoor opened as if by itself and she left, walking right past theguards who she had already hexed (just a little) so they wouldn'ttake note of or recall the door that opened and closed when no-onewas there.
By the time Joanna had bathed and dressed in fresh clothes, Hedvelgawas back in the castle, and once inside the princess' chambers, shereappeared and stood there, smiling brightly and holding a smallvelvet bag in her hand. The bag moved as the little things inside itstruggled in pitch-black warmth, and both women grinned as they heardthe faint squeaks of tiny voices from within it. Hedvelga handed herthe bag and Joanna asked, â€œHow many?â€â€œSix merchants,â€ the woman smiled. â€œAll of them renowned foroverpricing and never allowing a poor peasant a little extra time topay; they have them jailed by bailiffs and seize their property.
Thoroughly heartless scoundrels, every one.â€â€œPerfect,â€ the princess nodded, untying the string and emptying thebag into her hand. Six tiny men tumbled out, and their splutteringsof protest died away as they realized how small they were. Hedvelgahad put a sleeping spell on the inn before she entered it and caughtthem, so up to now, they simply thought they had been captured andbundled up and were being held for ransom. Now, staring up into thefaces of two beautiful giantesses as they lay in the warm palm of onegirl's hand, they were struck dumb for a few seconds.
Joanna giggled, and stooping low, she tipped the six men off her handso they fell in a tangled heap on the floor. The men struggled tosort themselves out, kicking at eachother and flailing about for someseconds before they managed to get to their feet. Then, they reallytook in just how tiny they truly were. The two women towered overthem, and they began to moan in fear as they compared themselves withthe girls' sandalled feet and realized that they were only about twoinches tall.
â€œPunishment time,â€ the princess giggled again as she looked down atthe tiny men. Then as she raised her foot, she asked out loud, â€œWhichone shall I step on first?â€â€œHow about that one in the red coat?â€ Hedvelga answered, pointing hertoes at him. â€œHe looks like he could use a little slimming down.â€â€œAlrightâ€¦â€ Joanna smiled sweetly at the tiny man as she began tolower her foot over him. â€œBye-bye, nasty little fat man,â€ she saidsoftly. â€œI'm going to squash you like a bugâ€¦â€The man screamed and began to run as the others stood and gaped up atthe giantesses, still not quite able to believe their own eyes. Then,as they watch, Joanna reached her foot out a little more, easilytracking the fat merchant as he ran faster than he had ever run inhis life, and with no effort at all she pinned him with neat,feminine precision right under the centre of her golden, strappysandal and held him there for a few seconds as he screamed andstruggled, then with another giggle, the princess slowly pressed herfoot down and squeaked with girlish delight as she literally crushedthe man flat until he squished out under her toes.
â€œIck! What a squishy little man!â€ she exclaimed gleefully.
â€œHe certainly was,â€ Hedvelga laughed. â€œWhich one next?â€â€œI think that one in the yellow and black stripey coat. He looks likea fat wasp.â€Joanna laughed delightedly as the chosen man began to scramble awayfrom her across the marbled floor, so terrified that he couldn't evenstand. He crawled on all fours, oblivious to the pain as he scrapedhis hands and knees raw. The princess took a single short paceforward, and this time, she dealt with him exactly as if he were acrawling bug:STEP!Squitsch!â€œGotcha!â€ she announced happily, pleased at the way she had crushedthe tiny man so neatly right beneath her sandal's toe. Raising herheel, she began to grind him to pulp while the others looked on, inawe of her power.
The four surviving men were finally becoming aware of just howserious their situation was. They began to run, each man heading offin a different direction, but it was hopeless. Hedvelga stopped themfrom getting far by the simple expedient of setting her foot down infront of them and making them turn back. She personally felt nourgent need to step on them because she had taken care of a fewothers already while she was out and about; a dozen vagabonds andruffians of various kinds had met their end beneath her foot in thepast hour or so, and she doubted that any of them would be missed.
So, as she set her foot down to block another little merchant as hetried to flee, the woman shrugged off the urge to crush him, andflicking him back close to Joanna's feet, suggested that he should beslowed down a bit.
â€œOkay,â€ the princess replied. The girl deftly pinned the tiny manfrom the waist down and gave him a light, quick press, just enough tosmash his feet and legs a little and stop him running away, andflashing a smile at Hedvelga, Joanna left him to writhe on the floorwhile she turned her attention to the others.
A few minutes later, the injured man was the only one left alive.
Joanna stood with feet slightly apart and her arms folded, lookingdown at him and swaying her hips a little from side to side.
â€œHeddyâ€¦What's it like to squash one under your bare foot? Have youever tried it?â€The witch came over and stood facing her, regarding the man with mildinterest as he continued to drag himself around on the floor andstare up at the two giantesses. â€œOh, I've done it many times. It'squite interesting, actually. You really feel him crunching, even moreso than through the sole of your sandal. And you feel his warmth.
It's not at all unpleasant.â€â€œVery wellâ€¦â€ Joanna slipped her sandals off. â€œI'll try him.â€ Thegirl began to lower her bare foot over the tiny, shrieking man.
â€œAfter all,â€ she smirked, â€œIt's cruel to let him suffer.â€â€œYesâ€¦It's only right to squash him properly,â€ Hedvelga agreed.
The man sobbed in absolute horror as he watched the bare sole of thegiant girl's foot rising up above him with terrible, deliberateslowness. He didn't know where he was, or why, or even who these twowomen were. He only knew â€“ from the quick closeup view he'd had oftheir faces â€“ that they were both young and beautiful, like goddessesin drawings of ancient times. Since he was dumped unceremoniously onthe floor, he'd had no further opportunity to study their faces. Now,he could only see these two giantesses from directly below, and eventhe sight of their superbly toned, feminine legs and thighs, even theincredible perspective he had up their skirts brought him no comfortor pleasure. Now, as he watched this girl's tight-fitting whitepanties crease and crumple softly between her thighs as she raisedher foot, he only knew that in just a few seconds he would be underher sole once again â€“ but this time it would be the warm skin of herfoot that would press down on him, !not the hard sole of her sandal.
Joanna hardly had a thought for how she looked to the little,crawling man, and the fact that he had a view of her that few menever experienced concerned her not at all. Smiling to herself, thegirl pinned the tiny man crossways beneath her toes and giggled asshe felt him struggling uselessly against her massive weight. â€œMmmâ€¦Itdoes feel nice,â€ she agreed, keeping him trapped with ease. â€œNowlet's seeâ€¦â€Moving as carefully as she could, the princess increased the pressurejust the barest fraction, but even that was too much for theminiature man's tortured body. He screamed weakly as the giantesscrushed him down, smashing his ribs and pelvis, and when she easedoff and swivelled her foot around on her heel to take a look at him,he could only feebly move his arms a little, clawing at the floor andtrying to drag himself away. â€œHmmâ€¦He didn't take much. I felt himcrunch,â€ she commented, fascinated by him.
â€œYesâ€¦But then, they never take much,â€ the witch replied, her voicelight.
â€œTrueâ€¦Oh, well. I'd better finish him,â€ Joanna said simply. Thegiantess covered the man again, and this time, she pressed down morefirmly, squeaking with delighted disgust when he suddenly crushedthen squished up between her sparkling, varnished toenails like asmall, over-ripe fruit.
â€œYuck!â€ she laughed. â€œHe's really squishy!â€Grinning hugely, Joanna dragged her foot back and playfully smearedthe tiny man across the floor in a wavy line. She wrinkled her noseand girlishly poked her tongue out a little between her teeth thenlaughed, â€œHey, look, I can draw lines with them! I wish I'd thoughtof that beforeâ€¦â€Hedvelga looked very pleased for her pupil. â€œYes, you can do allsorts of things with men if they're tiny enough.â€The princess turned to her friend and hugged her. â€œOh, Heddyâ€¦I feelso wonderful. So feminine and strong and awareâ€¦You're so good to meâ€¦â€â€œAs you are to me.â€ Hedvelga grinned and held up another small velvetbag. â€œAnd because this is a special day, I thought you might like afew more to celebrate your first successful level two spellâ€¦â€â€œOh, Heddyâ€¦â€ Joanna took the bag, and opening it, she tipped theterrified men into her hand. â€œEightâ€¦No â€“ nine of themâ€¦â€â€œA gang of wandering thieves,â€ the witch informed her with a mildshrug. â€œTheir auras show the evil that fills them. They're all fullof thoughts of rape and murder.â€Joanna nodded pensively, turning the men over with her fingertip andstudying them. â€œAnd â€“ they were at the Inn, too?â€The witch shook her head, picking a man up and turning him this wayand that and watching his frantic struggles as she replied, â€œNo.
Thankfully not. I found them creeping around outside the city walls,looking for a way in, so â€“â€ She gave another, eloquent shrug. â€œTherewere twelve of them in the gang, but they tried to scatter and runfor cover. After I stepped on three the others gave up and I caughtthemâ€¦Didn't I, little man?â€ Hedvelga gave her prisoner a lightsqueeze and smiled sweetly at him as his struggles became even morefrantic.
â€œYou stepped on three?â€ The princess glanced up, holding her hand upnear her face to keep an eye on the men in case one tried to jump tofreedom. Others had tried it before. â€œWhy did you not just place aholding spell on them? I ask not in criticism, Heddy, but onlybecause I would like to know.â€â€œBecause a holding spell takes power, more power than the littleenergy I expend in three easy little dabs of my foot. So, I crushedthe three fastest ones, and the others simply came to a halt. It'soften the easiest way.â€ The witch smirked and dropped the man backonto Joanna's open palm.â€œMurderers, thieves, and rapists. I thinkit's only fair that you should punish them.â€â€œYes.â€ The girl picked up one of the little men between thumb andfinger and held him up to her face to peer at him. She gently rolledthe screaming man between her fingers, her smile flickering as shewatched him scrabbling at her fingers with his tiny hands. â€œI shallbe glad to punish them.â€Then Joanna noticed that these men were slightly bigger than themerchants had been â€“ perhaps three inches tall â€“ and remarked uponit.
Hedvelga nodded. â€œYes, they're around three inches. I didn't shrinkthem quite so much because it made them easier to catch in such adark place â€“ and also because it requires less power. But they'restill a nice, easy size to work with, I think.â€Joanna grinned. â€œMmmâ€¦Yes. A very nice sizeâ€¦â€â€œWould you prefer them naked?â€The princess wrinkled her nose. â€œOh, yes please! That would be mostamusing!â€â€œFineâ€¦â€ Hedvelga murmured a few words and a second later all the menwere in their birthday suits.
Joanna laughed delightedly and turned her captive upside down. â€œIt'svery interesting to move them around when they have no clothes, isn'tit?â€â€œYes, it is,â€ her friend agreed, amused by Joanna's expression.
â€œNow let's see what I can do with himâ€¦â€ The princess allowed herfingers to open and watched as the man fell to the floor at her feet.
He was so light that the fall didn't injure him badly, but before hecould even get up, Joanna set her foot down on him and crushed himunder her bare toes. â€œNot so squishy as the merchants,â€ she remarked,dragging her foot across the floor to make a wavy line. â€œBut I'm notcomplaining,â€ she added, raising her eyebrows as she grinned wickedlyand selected another man, dropped him, and stepped on him as casuallyas if she were crushing a bothersome insect. â€œI'm going to draw apicture with them,â€ she explained.
â€œWhat a good idea,â€ Hedvelga smiled. â€œI never thought of doing that.â€Joanna looked pleased and grinned as she smeared the tiny man andturned him into another wavy line, and during the next severalminutes, she crushed six more men and smeared them thoughtfully underher toes. After the first two men (who she realized she'd used uprather wantonly to make just two thickish lines) the princess crushedand smeared the others to pieces much more carefully â€“ in fact whilethey were still alive â€“ because she wanted to spread them ratherthinly and make finer lines. The girl trapped her third little thiefunder her toes from the waist down and applied careful pressure,dragging her foot around to crush, mash and smear him and trace thelines she desired until that half was used up, all the while tryingnot to giggle as he clawed at her toes with his hands. â€œThat's muchbetter,â€ she commented, pausing to admire her work as she held theshrieking, struggling man pinned. â€œI get more out of them this way.â€The beautiful princess looked down at the suffering man and smiledsweetly, â€œNow I'll use the rest of you.â€ She raised her foot thencovered him once more, squashing him as neatly as she could just abit at a time to produce the effect she wanted as she guided himacross the floor, his tiny body her paintbrush. She proceeded withthe others in exactly the same way, taking her time, and after theeighth man had died his slow, agonizing death beneath Joanna's prettytoes, the two friends stood side by side for a few moments, looking