A Giant's Cook - chapter 4

A Giant's Cook - chapter 4

Published by Frenchfeeder · 2010-10-16T15:50:51+0000


Written & illustrated by Frenchfeeder

IV. Cooking for a giant

“I did not know the ample Bread –
‘Twas so unlike the Crumb
The Birds and I, had often shared
In Nature’s – Dining Room –”

Emily Dickinson (fascicle 15, poem 579)

Mark wanted the giant to eat all day. He would cook more and more food as it was delivered by ships into oversized meals for his huge, athletic friend. But how could those meals ever be considered “oversized”, in that particular case ? Mark was confident that the people in Pancia, Stockytown, Burgstijn and Sacka-Graez had thought about this... Soon, his daily supplies of food would be increased to more significant amounts !

With four big meals every day, the giant was pretty well-fed as it was. In fact, he had gained quite a lot of weight. Mark couldn’t guess how much. For such a fantastic creature – probably 80 to 90ft tall, if not more – what was another thousand pounds on his muscular frame ? It was more rewarding to note that his body looked nicely thick now, with a little pot-belly and plump lovehandles ready to grow... Mark should have been pleased with that, but it didn’t feel like much, for all his efforts to make the giant grow fatter ! Also his previous tricks weren’t working so well, and he was stucked with those – since the giant always followed the same pattern, like a child... Their eating games had turned into gorging sessions, as Mark had hoped they would. But, as a rule, Mark had to follow the giant and eat along, for hours. What felt like a crumb to the overeating giant was a morsel bigger than Mark’s head ! How could his small stomach hold so much food, without splitting open like the grilled sausages he presented to his friend ?

The giant would stop playing – and stuffing his face – the moment Mark did. So that “game” only worked to a certain extent. But ruse would never work. Mark had considered the option, and it was doomed to fail : the giant was so naive he wouldn’t fall for it. He preferred to play. After a good game, in the afternoon, the giant would be quite bloated : They finally reached a point where his enormous stomach was full, and he forced himself to gobble something fattening to please his friend. The contented giant would rub his belly with his hands, belch loud and growl like a lion, when Mark felt like his bellybutton was about to explode... They took a long nap together and woke up right in time for dinner.

Mark usually found himself alone. He stretched his arms and legs in a cloverfield when the giant was gone for a walk in the woods, bringing back fruits and berries for his friend. It was beyond Mark to think that the overfed creature would still look for food... He even shared what he had collected with him ! Mark didn’t get that someone would share like that. The giant’s nature was a complete mystery for him. It was a good thing that the giant wasn’t violent or vicious, but to be so selfless ? – it was ridiculous ! Mark also resented the fact that the giant was still active and wandering freely in the mountains – although he was a lot slower than before, and sleepy for an hour or two after every meal – when he would be lying on the ground all day, too stuffed to get up and move... Mark didn’t even cook the abundant meals they shared anymore. After a while, looking at that poor, tiny, tubby man struggle to stick whole pigs on pikes, and turn sausages bigger than him over open fires, the giant had learned how to do it... Now he would do all the preparation work and cooking, while stuffing grilled cheese and ham cakes into his mouth, and guzzling vats of beer. Mark only had to give him instructions and watch over what he was doing – only eating more “crumbs”, and almost showering in beer at the same time...

As a result, Mark usually felt lazy, full and heavy during the day. He had trouble sleeping sometimes but the giant always took care of all his needs, and he would hum for him or purr, almost like a cat, to ease him into sleep. He carried Mark in his hand, next to his stomach, when they had to walk over long distances. Mark had resisted it at first, being an agile and lean thief, well capable of climbing trees and rocks, but he would never run fast enough to match the giant’s long strides. Now, after living with him for three months in the forest, Mark had given up on it... He would barely walk ten steps in a day.

The other consequence of his new lifestyle was how much Mark gained, and how fast his once lean, nervous body had been coated with a generous layer of lard ! His arms and pecs had grown soft and meaty like hams... His butt cheeks had filled out enough to tear his short pants open – after all his buttons had popped out in his sleep. Mark’s belly was swelling and shaping up into such a butter ball that he couldn’t even get up from sitting position after a meal. His thighs and legs had become so plump, and so weak from lack of exercice, that the former thief was almost completely helpless without his huge friend...

“This is going too far ! I can’t do it on my own...” Mark thought while patting his vastly enlarged paunch, after another game.

Of course, Mark couldn’t keep up with his friend, when they shared a feast of all the delicious foods people from Pancia to Sacka-Graez would leave for the giant. No matter the fact that the tall, athletic, blonde beast ate more than fourty times what Mark got to eat, all that food didn’t seem to show much on his impressive frame. This method of fattening the giant was a failure, in Mark’s opinion...

However, after another month, following that strict diet of gluttony and laziness, the giant’s paunch was more noticeable, even when he wasn’t full. It bulged and sagged nicely when he took care of Mark on the ground, standing on all four. His muscular pecs also looked somewhat meatier and softer. His face looked slightly fuller with good, healthy cheeks and his strong, masculine jaw. But he certainly didn’t look very fat. He was far too active to be considered very fat either. On the other hand, Mark had blown up to becoming more than obese...

During their meals and prolonged, forceful eating games, the giant took care of everything and made sure that his friend always got his share. And when Mark was too stuffed and tired to eat, he would gently push an enormous crumb of stuffing or buttery pie crust down his throat... Then he would stuff his face with the rest of the pie. Mark couldn’t complain. The giant was only taking good care of him but, at this rate, his friend would burst like a tick in a week or two...

Mark’s massive gain and belly growth had not gone unnoticed. In fact, the giant seemed to enjoy it a lot – he certainly didn’t prevent it... He would spend some time, late at night, rubbing his friend’s sweaty back and belly, cleaning him up and comforting him against his cliff-sized, muscular chest. Mark doubted that the giant had ever owned a toy in his life, but he felt just like a small, squishy, fleshy puppet right now – only he had never seen a child treat his toys with such consideration ! The giant was always looking after him, pampering him like a baby, keeping him in a permanent state of sensual delights with full-body rubs, careful pats and licks, up to the inevitable eating game whenever Mark’s stomach growled from hunger... which happened more often than Mark cared to admit ! The fatter he would grow, the more the giant would love him – Mark was sure of it. And the better he was treated, the fatter Mark grew...

“I have to go... I have to go back, or I’ll just burst !”

Mark was spending most of his conscious time during the day between panic and ecstasy. The giant was really good to him – but this was going to kill him ! It had to stop – he couldn’t help himself...

Fortunately for him, some early morning, when the giant had left Mark lying in a meadow with soft grass to sleep on, a group of soldiers came out of the woods and woke him up. This was new – Mark’s old defensive reactions came rushing back to him, but he could not jump. He was too large and heavy to escape those guards – but they weren’t here to kill him, apparently... An officer stepped out and bowed, then read a message to him.

“His honorable excellency, the most feared and revered Lord-Mayor of Burgstijn-at-the-Seams hereby requests your presence in the City Hall to take part in an interrogation and political commission regarding the currently opened question of the giant and the menace he...”
“Captain ? Can we get over this part...”
“Yes, captain. The giant might be around here...”

The men didn’t look surprised at Mark’s massive belly – which surprised him a bit, as if they had expected it. They were only concerned with their own safety – no surprise there. Mark sure had not missed those guys... The whole group of men had to put their efforts together to lift Mark up from the ground and make him sit in some improvised carriage. Then they ran back to the shores and into their ship so fast as they could, leaving the usual enormous loads of food behind. It only took a moment for them to manoeuver, and they were already going South on the Great Lake’s waters. The sun was slowly rising, the dark mountains started to look smaller in the distance. Mark was going back...

Sitting on the deck, resting against a bundle of ropes, Mark was embarrassed by his new size, which prevented him to move much, or walk around, or just get up from where they had put him – when the crew was so active around him and at different levels with the sails. No one seemed to notice him, passing by without a word : no orders to give him, no comment on his glistening belly, nothing... They wouldn’t talk to him anyway. Would they put him back in prison ? Was he going to be sent to a place of execution again ?

After an hour, three of the younger members of the crew came straight to him, washed his chest and back, and his whole body with sponges, as he was covered with dirt, grass stains and sweat. They massaged his bulges and rolls of fat with due care – since they had been trained to treat the overweight, soft men they served with respect. This was also new to Mark, who seemed to enjoy the whole process – maybe a bit too much...

When he was cleaned up and dry, the prisoner looked like a pile of butter slowly melting under the evening sun – then his stomach growled under the thick layers of lard : Mark was hungry. He had already missed his morning meal, and it was almost time for lunch. The sailors chuckled when he told them. Then the captain came back to explain their mission to him, and his new situation.

“I am not surprised that you are so hungry !” he said, grabbing and pinching the thicker roll on Mark’s side. “This little excursion in the mountains has obviously done a lot of good to you ! Now you are called back by the council to answer for your results with the giant. I believe you don’t want to make a bad impression on your rulers and masters... right ?” and he gave a sudden slap to his prisoner’s soft, deflated stomach.
“So... You’ll just make me... starve ? Is that it ?”
“No, no. We need to bring you to the council safe and healthy. Your dinner is on its way. I guess it will be a welcomed change for you !”

As the captain was going back at the wheel, laughing out loud, holding his belly in his hands, the ship’s cook approached Mark with a big, tall, steamy cookware and put it next to him. It was full of cabbage, carrots, turnips and onions boiled together with only a pinch of salt and herbs. It tasted disgustingly bland – and Mark was fed the whole pot with big wooden spoons, as another boy made him drink lots and lots of fresh water...

When they were done with him, Mark was painfully stuffed but nothing in what he had eaten was particularly nourishing... For an hour or so, Mark only hiccuped and farted to digest all the vegetable goop going through his guts. The sky was so clear that he felt the sun on his shoulders and upper body strongly. He still felt too heavy to move into the shadow of sails or barrels, and just sweated there – until a gentle breeze enveloped him, in the evening. The ship’s cook and his servant were coming back with another huge cookware of tasteless food...

This treatment went on for the duration of his trip to Burgstijn-at-the-Seams. By the time he was presented by the captain to the guards at the gate, Mark’s belly had shrunk down in size significantly, and it didn’t feel so blubbery. But what mattered more to his guards was that Mark was standing up now, more or less able to walk to carry his bulk... In spite of the rough diet which had been forced on him for almost a week, the prisoner was still amazingly fat and round – so the captain and officers were glancing at him, all red with jealousy. Even the guards looked after him both with suspicion and awe – a reflex for them, in the presence of such a beautiful, well-fed belly.

The trip on the Great Lake had been really slow. They had crossed path with a few other ships on their way back to Burgstijn-at-the-Seams... His journey on land was even slower ! Obviously, there was no hurry for Mark to face the commission. He also felt the hours longer than ever in his slow-moving carriage closed with heavy steel bars. After a few days, the guards forced him to walk behind it, in chains, to force him to stretch his legs. They had also dressed their prisoner in really tight clothes, which added to his discomfort...

Mark was finally locked in a cell in the highest tower of Burgstijn prison – almost at the top. Did they want him to exercice that bad, forcing him to walk hundreds and hundreds of steps ?... It was a small cell with only one window, more like an arrowslit, looking over the houses of that proud city... Mark was panting, his forehead dripping with sweat. He was already exhausted from climbing up there, and it was hotter than a steam room under those roofs !

After a moment to let the prisoner rest – if Mark could ever rest in such awful conditions – a guard called and followed him to a much larger, clean, white room on ground floor. Standing next to some complicated piece of equipment, a doctor was waiting to examine him. Mark had been stripped down as he had entered his cell, and he was still naked when he was asked to stand on the scales and get his waist and belly carefully measured with a red and white tape.

“Fourty-seven knots, boy ! Very good... If memory serves me correctly, you were only fifteen knots around the waist when you were sent to be hanged, and your belly was pretty much the same. You almost had no belly, back then ! Look at you now : You have more than doubled in size, during your adventures up North. Let’s check your weight, then...”

Mark was blushing as the guards didn’t repress their laughs anymore, listening to the results and sneacking up from behind the door. The doctor moved weights on the scales and Mark tried to follow in his head. He also remembered that his thin waist and abs used to be around fifteen knots, and his weight was in the lower 130lbs. The same doctor had measured and weighed him in the morning when he was supposed to die. It was part of the ceremony in Burgstijn that the weight and size of the criminal would be announced to the people – in order to inspire defiance against short, lightweight, skinny outcasts. Mark had been there. It had to be his worst memory ever, but he still felt humiliated by this new treatment – and he certainly had grown... quite a lot, since then !

“408lbs ! Let’s say 410lbs, to round it up...” the doctor teased, slapping the poor prisoner’s paunch and butt with good emphasis. And Mark was sent back to his cell to be fed more pots of carrots, turnip and cabbage until he would be full.

Mark was feeling weak. His all-vegetable meals were so plain that he missed the greasy bacon and stuffings the giant would gently feed him until he was afraid to burst... He missed being treated nicely. There was no food in what he was forced to eat, and the guards had not changed at all : They were always cruel to him, slapping and poking him, and snickering when they had to talk to him. It dawned on him that they must have been instructed to tease their prisoner about how fat and round he had grown – so unusual for them, who would pay their respects to overweight, chubby noble men. Mark hated the hypocrisy behind it. He missed the quiet and peace of the mountains... He missed the giant’s clumsy but heart-felt hugs... He missed his smile... He just missed him more and more with each passing day...

“Is there even a chance for me to go back to him ?” he thought.

For days and weeks, Mark didn’t get out of his cell. It was still too hot to breathe without feeling dizzy. Even when he was standing by the window, he could hardly feel the fresh air from outside the tower. He would sweat and sweat all day, so much that he welcomed the moments when young servants came to bloat his stomach with lukewarm water... Mark was so bored, he would listen to whatever the guards discussed in the stairs and hallways.

Apparently, the situation around Burgstijn had recently changed – quite a lot... There were new rumors about Kastel-Pancia, this time about revolts around the baron’s castle, after the death of his guards and knights. Some would even say that the baron was in personal danger, while an improvised army of peasants marched to his castle. This wasn’t official news, and Mark would only shrug when he heard about it. Big meals were still sent to the giant from peasants in Pancia. This was for sure. It was enough for him to discard other rumors.

But the talks around the baron were insistant. Apparently, the baron’s evil plan was to bring down the whole economic system of Stockytown, Sacka-Graez and Burgstijn-at-the-Seams with so much food to be sent up North that the contract would be broken and the baron would denounce his partners as traitors, after keeping them distracted long enough to raise a new army and attack them once their own forces would be weak enough. But Stockytown and Burgstijn were one step ahead of his projects already. To answer the baron’s demands of food, they were keeping a count of his debts to them, and followed the initial previsions in terms of food amounts and shipping ! On their journey back, Stockytown ships would study the shores of Pancia, which they had never explored – and certainly they would start planning their own invasion.

Secret agents from Stockytown had been working for years to organize riots in the South of Pancia... Until now, they had only got to approach people from the villages close to the border. Had they minimized their achievements to keep the people in Brugstijn distracted and reassured that they wouldn’t dare to attack ? All that did make sense to Mark, who was able to estimate the sheer amounts of fattening foods sent to the giant by now. He also admitted that such important moves had to be presented as a lot less harmful than they were, for other spies to find... So far, there was no proof of any change. From his tower, Mark could only see the town buzzing, baking and cooking – certainly loads of it were meant for his giant friend to stuff his stomach full... Mark was hungry as well !

One night, a drunk guard let it slip that Burgstijn’s secret plan would be to use a satisfied and contented giant as a weapon to crush Stockytown forces, once they had marched up to the castle of Pancia in the North. Then they would take over both lands, from their armed positions in the South. Mark paid more attention to this, in spite of it being drunk talk, and it gave him a lot to think...

Then one day, Mark was called again but to answer the official commission as he had been told. He was given a bath and clothes fitting his condition as prisoner... but the pants obviously didn’t fit. Mark had barely put them on past his meaty thighs that they ripped around his butt crack. The guards roared with laughter, but Mark felt no shame. He knew they would have a hell of a time trying to keep a serious face in court. Such lack of discipline would be severely punished...

Mark had been waiting and dieting hard for so long because the members of the council in Burgstijn thought that it would be inappropriate for the people to see them interrogate and judge a man fatter than they were. When he had been sent to his cell, Mark was indeed much larger than most of them !

Even now, standing with his bare chest and legs – and butt cheeks – in front of an assembly of men in fancy, expensive clothes whose purpose was to magnify their plump limbs and ample bellies, Mark certainly didn’t look thin... He felt a lot thinner, but he still had to weigh about 280lbs. There were constant whispers around him. Mark couldn’t decide if they meant reprobation or admiration.

The members of the commission asked Mark to tell them about his adventures in the wild North. They seemed to agree with his version of the facts, but most of them looked a bit puzzled when it came to the giant sharing all his food with the thief and how he had grown so much bigger from it. Mark had been away for too long to remember that, according to Burgstijn principles, it was common sense to stuff oneself beyond full before feeding his friends – even on such a mission.

“So you confirm that the giant has been well-fed.”
“Would you say he’s already become fat and plump ?”
“I couldn’t say that. The giant has gained weight, but he’s so unnaturally tall and strong... I’m afraid I could only make him slightly beef up with what I had.”

The chairman presiding the commission nodded and exchanged low talk with his colleagues, while the hall was full of murmurs by now. Mark threw a few sideway glances at the nobles and esquires attending the interrogation. Then it hit him. Had they all been getting... thinner ? Not thinner than him, of course, but slightly thinner than they used to be ? Somehow, all those fashionable clothes seemed to be floating on the bodies of people around Mark... Could it possibly be true that the baron’s conjectures were right ? – that even the nobility of Burgstijn-at-the-Seams would have to go hungry for a while ?

This was definitely interesting, but Mark would think about it later. Right now, he had fun teasing everyone about all the good foods he had fed to the giant, and shared with him. He went on and on until everyone in the hall was drooling and growls of hunger were impossible for anyone to hide ! The chairman assured Mark once again of Burgstijn’s trust in him, and that more ships would be sent according to initial planning. During his absence, a limited number of expeditions had been organized, to prevent destruction of their fleet if the giant was to spot them. But that mission had proved to be a success. So far, the news was always the same : No one had seen the giant, the food was always gone when the next crew would set foot on the shores, which looked clean and empty... This was a good sign, and the council had renewed their friendly, peace offering, fattening intentions regarding the giant, in their last session with a messenger from Pancia representing the baron.

Mark was not fooled by such “friendly” intentions. He was sent back to his cell, where he would ponder these new questions. Some rumors had to be accurate, considering the decision of this rather anecdotic commission. And the baron must have been thinking faster than anyone else. Mark was convinced that he had a secret ace in the hole... Most important to him, the giant had probably eaten his fill for months now ! Was he finally getting round and chubby ? Mark had doubts about it, if there had only been a few, careful shipments to him for starters...

The guards had told him that he would spend three more weeks in prison, to “think it over”, and so the cooks would start working harder for the giant. Mark’s new cell was on ground floor – but it was an actual steam-filled room, this time ! He was still fed plain vegetables only, feeling sick of it, and drinking tap water. So when he was finally set free, there wouldn’t be much left of the immobile, plump and corpulent Mark...

But he didn’t care. His thoughts were all about the giant now. For too long, Mark had doubted that he would go back to him, and it was only a matter of days now. He wasn’t sure about the giant’s current weight or health, and he couldn’t wait to find out. He was even more uncertain about explaining to the giant how he had been missing for so long while food was still sent to him. But he didn’t worry too much about it either : He would see the giant again, get into his huge welcoming palms again, rest against his deep, fleshy chest again... The council could give him any order they wanted, he wasn’t listening. Their prisoner only had to close his eyes, and he could hear the whispers of the night, feel the gentle mountain breeze, the giant’s soft embrace. What else was there for him in this Mittel Earth, that he could wish for ? Hold his giant friend in his arms, and redefine the world from there...

One late evening, while Mark was trying to get some sleep, sitting in a puddle of his own sweat, a messenger from Sacka-Graez was announced. The prisoner was roughly taken to a dark, intimate conference room. A remarkably obese monk joined him, followed by a boy who had to be under eighteen. The messenger monk had a large, chubby-cheeked face, with a cunning smile and piercing dark eyes. His white robes were all embroidered with gold, while his young follower – obviously an apprentice – only wore light apron robes up to his rope belt, holding a large box of chocolate muffins against his shiny, bloated stomach.

“What we are about to discuss should stay between us...” the messenger monk warned Mark. “You, wait for me in the hallway and pray !” he told the young boy, putting a muffin in his hand and holding it up to his face. The boy slowly left with a sigh, taking large bites of muffin on his way.

“This is the wish of our Holy Father of Sacka-Graez. The council is sending you back to the unknown forests to feed the giant more and more food... You will do as you’ve been told. But soon, Burgstijn will send new orders to you. The Lord-Mayor wants you to train the giant so he can be used to attack the baron’s castle from the West. You will ignore such orders of war. Keep the giant in the forest. Keep him in the North and East, work according to Burgstijn’s instructions, for the time being... Then you will refuse to leave.”
“How can I refuse ?”
“Just ask their messenger for official, signed orders. The council will meet again, and Sacka-Graez will protect you and prevent any attack involving the giant.”
“Is that what you want ?”
“It is, and you would be wise to act accordingly.”
“Why would I follow your instructions instead of theirs ?...”

The monk looked deeper into Mark’s eyes, then answered in a noble attitude, patting his magnificent paunch and caressing the golden embroidered motifs on smooth silk and linen.

“Think about Eternity, my son...”
“Alright, I will. But I have to deal with what’s coming right now.”
“You will be free by tomorrow at noon. We have seen to it. The time is ready, now that you have your instructions...”
“I know Burgstijn is increasing the amounts of... let’s say “donations”... to their dear friend the giant. How about you ?”
“Sacka-Graez will send more food than Burgstijn does. There will be enough for you to keep the beast in... peaceful dispositions. Do we agree on this ?”
“Two more ships than Burgstijn sends, every time, every day, whatever the costs – those are my terms. Do you agree on this ? Father ?”

Mark and the monk exchanged looks so meaningful that they had to be thinking about the same thing. Certainly they undertstood each other...

“Do you agree ?”
“I do... Then feed the giant everything ! Fatten him up for good, until he can no longer stand or move ! You will go with our Lord’s blessing and protection...”

The monk called for the guard to open the door, and slowly left the room to go check on his boy, with a lecherous smile on his face. There were only two muffins left in the box, and the boy was huffing and puffing, sitting on a bench... But the monk wasn’t satisfied with it.

“Didn’t I tell you to pray ? You must show more discipline, if you want to see the Light, my son. You haven’t even outgrown your rope belt, yet...” he patted the boy’s fully stuffed stomach. “Open up !”

And he forced a full chocolate muffin into the boy’s mouth, holding the back of his face with his left hand, feeding him to the last crumb in large, loud bites ! The young apprentice belched from fullness when he was done.

“Better, my son. You have to do better than this. You should drink some honey-milk. There will be more for you in the carriage...” the monk concluded, leaving the hall and slapping his young boy’s widening butt.

“I so wish I had been sent to Sacka-Graez to study !” a guard whispered, rubbing his pumpkin-like armour, which sounded strangely hollow at the moment... Mark smiled at this : His guards had trouble maintaining their weight.

The horse-carriage was slowly moving back to the West, to Sacka-Graez. Inside, the monk and his apprentice were surrounded with cream-filled pastries, butter cakes, jars of strawberry jam and milk... The boy tried to take a break from his devoted stuffing with a few questions to his teacher.

“Why are we helping the nobility of Burgstijn-at-the-Seams ?”
“Only a temporary sacrifice, my son... When all this is over, there will be enough food for all the monks in the monastery ! And all the novice monks like you will outgrow their rope belts a lot faster... Eat !”
“But – hmmmmph !... How do we get more food for us when we send even more to the giant ?”
“Burgstijn will also need financial help to support this operation, soon. And who will they turn to, when Stockytown’s interests are only in Pancia ? We will get our share of the baron’s treasure through them, without financing an army... In the meantime, we must make sure that the council will never go for open war. With more food, the giant will get so fat that he can’t be manipulated by Burgstijn to attack on either side of the unknown forests.”
“Hmmmmph, you can never... trust... that they wouldn’t... turn against us...” the painfully stuffed boy managed to answer in between large, forceful bites of creamy pastries.
“Exactly, my son. Don’t worry about all this. We are only protecting ourselves to maintain peace in Mittel Eath... Now, eat your butter cakes faster !”
“Yes, father...” the apprentice sighed, rubbing his fattened belly, and feeling like he was about to explode against his comfortable pillows.

Just as the messenger had assured him, Mark got out of prison in the afternoon, a lot thinner than when he had entered its walls, and with new clothes that were just so worn as his old ones... In the harbour, he could see almost a dozen ships being laden with more food from Burgstijn-at-the-Seams than before.

He had been thinking all night, planning projects of his own. No matter what the four powers currently preparing for war would do about him, there would be food for the giant. He kept thinking about making him fat for good, really fat...

“I wish there was a way to force him to eat and eat... How can I get the giant to really stuff himself beyond full ?”

Mark set foot on the shores in the morning, a few days later. He was breathing loudly, stretching his arms at the mountains – so anxious to be back. The others were only anxious about being there. They left him alone at once, with plenty and plenty of food. Mark thought he should lose no time and started cooking the stuffed pigs, the enormous sausages, the gigantic omelets on open fires. Then, after he was more than half-done, he heard a noise – not just a noise, but strange and familiar at the same time – It was him – He was back ! The giant suddenly appeared more clearly from the shadows of the great woods. Mark’s heart was beating fast, but when the giant saw him and recognized him at once, Mark felt his large, strong hands around him and he was lifted up in the air next to his huge friend’s face. The giant was so overcome with joy, there were tears in his eyes. Mark had reasons to be happy too : His friend looked much fatter than when he had left him... The giant’s face looked healthy and well-fed with good, rosy cheeks. His lovehandles had started to grow thick and plump. His belly was stuffed and round, showing good signs of expansion and future chubbiness – he had obviously eaten everything that had been sent for him... Mark answered the giant’s hug with a few good, appreciative pats.

“There, Giant. I’m back ! And I have brought all this to feed you !” Mark gestured at the cooked meats, hot omelets and pies and pastries around them.

The giant didn’t seem to be so hungry, although his mouth was watering with all the delicious scents of food coming to him. Mark was quite intoxicated by them as well : he had been deprived of all those great foods for so long !

“Come on, Giant ! Come on ! Sit down and eat... Sit down...”

But the giant took his friend firmly back in his hand, and started walking to the East. Mark was trying to stop him. It was pointless.

“Hey ! Giant ! You have to eat ! You have to eat all this...”

A few minutes later, however, Mark wasn’t protesting. The giant wanted to show him something, and now he knew what it was. There was a small village hidden in the forest – a village Mark had never noticed, or even heard of. The houses looked fairly recent too, big and strong but rather clumsily assembled...

“Hello there ?” Mark called out. “Anybody here ?”

He didn’t expect people to answer, after the giant had made his presence quite clear with his fast, heavy steps – so he was all the more surprised when he saw children first, coming out of their homes with joyful cries and rushing close to the giant’s feet. Mark was put on the ground, and the children started to play – going around, climbing into giant’s hands, on his shoulders and up into his long, blonde hair... What was this village exactly ?

“Who’s there ?” Mark asked again, hoping for a more adult answer.

He had noticed that the children were pretty round and chubby – especially for people living in the country. But their parents looked really well-fed as well !

“You must be Mark, the giant’s cook...” a man respectfully approached him.
“I am. But who are you ? Where are you coming from ?”
“Kastel-Pancia... We have fled from there.”

And Mark was told the tale of those poor people escaping Kastel-Pancia and its unfair system of oppression, taxes, exortions, humiliations and starvation. They had been courageous enough to cross the border, outrun and outsmart the baron’s guards and their dogs, wandering in the unknown forest. They had found the giant alone, and he had welcomed them immediately. In fact, he had built the whole village with his own hands, big chunks of houses they had worked on to live in... Then he had helped them ploughing fields, turning the soil with his fingers since they had no horses or oxen, and of course he had generously offered them to eat some of his own food. They had suddenly found themselves in a haven of abundance and peace – and Mark could tell they must have been taking advantage of the giant’s friendship... Those poor peasant clothes already looked tight around their well-fed bellies and wide, lazy butts. It was only a small village, but the giant wouldn’t feel so lonely anymore...

“And he’s been staying with you ? Helping you, playing with your children ?”
“Most of the time, during the day...”
“But he was always coming back to the shores to get more food, alone.”
“Once, a few of us have followed him. He would look at all the food displayed for him for a while, look around and wait. Really wait for hours, I’m sure ! Then he’d cook everything, eat most of it, wait some more, eat some more...”
“And when he was quite full, he would sigh sometimes but he kept on eating... until he would look really bloated !”
“His eyes were almost sad, at that point.”
“Then he brought what was left to us.”
“I see...”

Mark was trying to organize his thoughts. But this was so unexpected !

“He’s been waiting for me...” he whispered, his heart beating faster once again.

He considered the houses in the village around him. There had to be a hundred people living in here, with their children. The giant had provided them with a nice place to stay, helped organizing their homes, growing their plantations. They had never hoped to meet such a good friend to protect them from the cold or danger, and they truly loved him and worshipped him... Yet the giant had not forgotten about his first small, human friend. He had been looking for Mark every morning, every evening – every time a meal would come. He would look for him and wait – then he would stuff his face on purpose, knowing that his friend wanted him to eat and eat too much for his own good... Mark was feeling hot inside.

“Did the giant ever leave you for long ?”
“No, but we could tell he wasn’t totally happy. Look at him now... He must have been missing you a lot !”

This made Mark realize how he had also been trying to find some distraction in the political affairs around Burgstijn-at-the-Seams, with all those promises soon to be stabbed in the back – when the giant had never been out of his mind. Now that he was back in the cool Northern forests, Mark couldn’t help feeling a lot better about himself as well. He had strangely missed these wide spaces around him, the rising sun over the distant mountain tops and the fresh, quiet voice of the streams and waterfalls...

He had missed all this, but living in a peaceful, natural environment didn’t mean much to him, who had been living in the bad parts of cities and wandering in the countryside. In his mind, everything was working around the giant. Even when he avoided to think about him clearly, the mountains and trees and water were nothing more than a sign of his friend’s presence... Mark loved being back here, knowing it was for good. He would never leave the village. He would never leave the giant alone !

More food was coming their way. Tomorrow morning, there would be new ships leaving full loads of the best kinds of food : thick chocolate cakes and meat pies, cookies the size of frozen ponds, sausages bigger than mighty tree trunks... That should be enough to fill the giant’s belly and make him fatter – much fatter !

“Looks like your friend’s coming to pick you up again...” the peasant told Mark, bringing him back to reality.

And Mark nestled in the giant’s hand, going up in the air. Resting against that soft, muscular chest he had been sleeping on so comfortably for many nights, he considered how much thicker and fatter the giant’s skin had become... All that food had come to good use ! Mark was patting him lovingly.

“You’ve grown... But now I’ll feed you more food. A lot more food. We’re going to fatten you up, like a pig... On to the feast, Giant !”

(to be continued...)