Tucker was pleased that he got the trial that he had desperately wanted. He thought that something was finally going right for him in this city. He planned on clearing his name and then leaving with Jessica by his side. He would have loved to take the map and Juggernaut along with him but he was more or less willing to leave them behind if it meant simply getting away from July. He would not leave the city without Jessica however, she was far too precious to him to leave behind and he would never forgive himself if he did this.
He could see Jessica sitting there right next to Lord Nostory who was the cause of all the pain and suffering that he had seen within the castle. Most of it had been dealt by Mathew but Lord Nostory was the man who held the leash. Everything that happened in this city went through him.
"You have played your cards well Mr Martel," said Lord Nostory who continued to sit in his seat and glare over at Tucker. "If you are found innocent you will be free to go and you will also be given back your personal effects and a few gold coins for the inconvenience. Found guilty however and your punishment will be left up to you. Either you will be executed or you can live out the rest of your days in the dungeons below this castle, you will never see the light of day again or the intimate touch of a woman. Every day you will experience pain and suffering until the light within you is snuffed out."
There was one other form of trial that Tucker could pick but he wanted to use it as a last resort if his original trial began to go south. He had the option of picking a trial by combat where Lord Nostory would pick a champion and he would do battle with Tucker. Tucker himself had a right to a champion but he doubted that anyone would agree to be his champion so he would have to fight for himself. If he were to win the trial by combat it would mean that the gods favoured his cause and he would be free to go. In this trial however losing the battle meant losing his life.
"I accept these terms," said Tucker with a small amount of confidence in his voice. "The gods will judge me as the rightful party in this endeavour and I will be freed before the next full moon."
"You seem very confident with your words wannabe knight. While you are awaiting your trial your accommodations will be upgraded. You will sleep in a room fit for one of my serving women but you will not be permitted to leave. There will always be a guard at your door to make sure that you cannot leave."
"Seems fair enough, anything is better than that cell that you put me in." He was acting confident once again and this was beginning to annoy Lord Nostory. He was a very powerful man but these were all things that he had to do by law. He was dead set on making sure that the trial went his way and that Tucker would forever be out of his hair.
Lord Nostory looked over to Jessica who still sat there without much emotion on her face. He was doing all of this for her and if she had her own free will she would have grown and taken Tucker to safety. Seeing him like this hurt her inside but on the surface there was nothing that she could do to help him. She was in an unwinnable situation in her mind and all she could do was sit there and watch as events transpired before her. She was the physically the most powerful person in the city and yet right now she was also the most powerless, the irony was not lost on her.
Tucker was taken away to his new accommodations and Jessica was left with Lord Nostory by his side. He looked over to her and gave her a smile. Everything that he was doing, he was doing it for her and he would die before allowing someone like her to slip through his fingers. He had been waiting his entire life to be with a woman like her and now that he did have her he would let nothing get in the way. He would start a war to keep her if he needed to, or even break away from the King and Queen and declare July and the Summer Lands and independent nation. He would do all this to keep his prize and much more, he had found a unique individual and he would allow nothing to take it away from him.
"Take him out of my sight!" said Lord Nostory with a stern voice. He had enough of looking at Tucker and wanted him to leave immediately.
Rather than being dragged out Tucker was led out of the hall and taken to the quarters that had belonged to one of the serving women. It was a relatively small space but there was a window and a bed that was actually comfortable to sleep in. For Tucker it was an enormous upgrade in comparison to where he had been sleeping before.
The ground was solid stone along with the walls but there was a cosiness to it that was definitely missing in the jail cell. There was one problem that Tucker had was that he wasn't too sure exactly how to defend himself in this trial. He had no idea about the laws that were local to July but he still had his trial by combat that he could use but he only wanted to use it as a last resort.
A small form of salvation came the next morning when Tucker woke up and saw a serving woman standing right by his door. She had short black hair and stood a fraction of an inch shorter than the top of the door frame. A couple of more sessions on the rack would mean she would have to start ducking to get through the doors. She was looking at him with a small but pleasant smile.
As promised there were two guards posted right outside of his door so that he couldn't leave and the room was located too high up for him to successful jump out of without falling to his death. There was not enough fabric in the room to make any rope and even if there were the guards were constantly looking out at him to make sure that he didn't do anything that could lead to an escape.
"Good morning good sir my name is Monica," said the tall serving woman. "Lord Nostory has put me in your service while the trial is ongoing. I am to carry out any requests that you ask of me within reason. I am to make sure that you are fed and that all of your needs are met. He extends you this hospitality until you are proven guilty."
"I am not guilty," replied Tucker trying to sound confident. "The trial will prove my innocence and then I will be free to leave this city and I intend to never return as long as I live."
"Very well good sir. Is there anything that you require of me?"
"Yes Monica could you fetch me some breakfast?"
"As you wish."
Tucker only had a few minutes to wait before Monica returned to the room with a tray of food. The breakfast was only a simple one but it was still better food then Tucker had received in the dungeons. He hated to think of those who were still down there while he had his trial. He thought that many of them probably had their own trials and yet they had been found guilty and left to rot.
He still wished that he had Juggernaut and his treasure map but above all he wished that he still had Jessica by his side. She was there for him when he was at his lowest and always seemed to know what to do to get out of any situation. Now he found himself in the predicament by himself. In a way it was exactly what he had asked for when he told her that he could fight his own battles. He didn't want his words to be twisted quite like this but he saw it as a good opportunity to show himself that he could find a way out of his own problem without Jessica's help.
Even if he were to somehow free himself he still had to find a way to break Lord Nostory's grip on his best friend and make her see things for what they truly were. She was much like a walking zombie with the enchanted necklace and he needed to find a way to free her before he left July. He had already vowed that he would not leave without her by his side and he was determined to do this or die trying.
Tucker wasn't the only one preparing for the trial. Rather than it taking place in the great hall of the castle a smaller building just outside was being readied for the trial. It had been used many times over the years for trials ranging from crimes of murder and treason all the way down to the simple theft of bread.
The building itself was one of the oldest in July and had been used for many different events over its history. In a couple of days' time it would be the venue for Tucker's trial and would either be the place of his salvation or damnation. If Lord Nostory were to have his way Tucker wouldn't be walking out a free man.
Lord Nostory himself was preparing his case in the trial but there was one predicament that he had. Normally in trials he would be the one who would be judging the trial but since the crimes were against him he was not allowed to be a judge by the laws of the land. Instead he appointed another judge who was greatly in his pocket. It had not been the first time that something like this had happened but as long as Lord Nostory paid the judge handsomely he would favour more towards him rather than the defendant.
A special seat was being constructed for Jessica so that she could attend as well. Due to her size a regular seat in the courthouse would be too small and it would be like her sitting on a seat designed for a child. It would be a large but majestic seat fit for the woman who would soon become the Lady of July.
Already word of the trial had begun to circulate through July and many people wanted to be the ones who witnessed the trial take place. Unfortunately for them the trial was not going to be a public spectacle so only a handful would be able to go into the courthouse and watch the trial take place. They would be seeing Tucker either earn his freedom or incarcerated for the rest of his days. None knew exactly why the wannabe knight had even been arrested but they just knew that it would be a spectacle to watch.
Inside his room Tucker was still thinking of someway of earning his freedom and rescuing Jessica. For the moment he was concentrating mainly on earning his freedom since he wouldn't be able to rescue her if he was rotting in some dirty dungeon or worse. He was still not allowed to leave the room and he could see the guards outside making sure that he didn't escape.
Monica stood inside the room awaiting any command that Tucker might have. She too was cursed by her height as she had been brought here to serve Lord Nostory. She had been stretched a lot since she had come here and it had made her one of the tallest serving women in the castle. Despite her height she was still short in comparison to Jessica if the two women ever stood side to side. The difference would be even greater when Jessica was her true height but in that case even the tallest man in Angleland would look to be nothing but a child's play thing in comparison to her.
Tucker looked towards Monica and he had an idea in his mind. It would be nothing that got him a quick escape or put his or Monica's life in jeopardy but he thought that it would go some way into helping him and possibly saving him from a life not worth living.
"Monaco is that your name?" asked Tucker as he tried to remember the name of the tall serving woman.
"Monica good sir," replied the tall woman with grace in her voice.
"Monica what do you know of the laws of July? I know many of Angleland as a whole but the local laws to this city have escaped my knowledge. If you could fill me in as best as you can maybe I could use it to my advantage."
"I have lived in July for a number of years and I know many of the laws. I can tell you all that I know if you wish."
"Yes I do wish it, first tell me what will happen if I were to be found guilty of whatever crime I have supposedly committed."
"That is up to Lord Nostory, since these crimes are against the Lord himself you will either be thrown into the dungeon and never see the light of day again. Or you will be publicly executed, if you are lucky he will allow you to choose your own execution. I would advise you to have a quick and painless death."
"I do not intend to die my dear, I intend to prove my innocence and release my friend from Lord Nostory's grasp."
"Your friend?" It took her a couple of moments for her to realise that he was talking about Jessica. She had seen her stand up for a brief moment and she couldn't get over just how tall she was. Monica had not seen a woman taller than her since she was twelve and seeing that Jessica was around a foot and a half taller than her had completely blown her mind. "You mean Lady Nostory."
"They are not married yet so she is still Miss Snape., her mind is no longer her own and I intend to restore her back to the way that she was before I leave July. She is my best friend and she has protected me for many years, it is time that I protected her and I will sacrifice my own life if need be."
Monica sat in silence for several moments and took in everything that Tucker had taken. She couldn't help but feel the world of sympathy for him. Here was a man who had been wrongly imprisoned simply because Lord Nostory wanted to marry his best friend. She would have loved to have helped him any way that she could but she knew that Lord Nostory would not allow it. If he suspected that she was truly helping him to rescue Jessica he would have her flung into the dungeon.
Lord Nostory himself was making more preparations towards his wedding rather than the trial itself. He thought that Tucker was going to be found guilty and he would be punished accordingly. The one thing that Lord Nostory was trying to focus on in particular was a way to replicate Jessica's dress so that she could wear other clothing rather than the same dress. He thought that she was beautiful but there was no chance in his mind that a Lady should wear the same dress every day. He knew that it would take time before a suitable replacement could be created.
More often than not Lord Nostory would love to see Jessica naked so that he could embrace every aspect of her beauty but he knew the consequences if this were to happen. She would grow in size almost instantly and destroy his castle. Even he didn't want to see his castle become nothing more than a ruin, he had been through too much for that to happen and so he was willing to wait.
The sensible part of his mind wanted to find some kind of potion that would prevent Jessica from growing when she took off her dress. But another part of his brain didn't want this to happen. He wanted to see her at her maximum height and the fact that she was still growing was another reason why he was so attracted to her. Taking that away would be like taking away a part of her. This he didn't want, he wanted her to grow as tall as the Gods wanted her to and he didn't want to do anything to stop it.
The days seemed to fly by but eventually the day did come for Tucker's trial to begin. It was a relatively misty day as morning broke in July. The birds could be heard in the skies as they sang their songs, they were oblivious to what was going to happen that day. A man was either going to earn his freedom or be condemned to a life that many would consider not worth living. The day would end in glory for one man.
Tucker was taken to the courthouse with a convoy of guards. Lord Nostory didn't want to take any chances and he wanted to make sure that Tucker couldn't escape. One thing that he didn't want to leave the city was exactly what was happening in his castle. He would not be charged for anything that he did but the other lords would begin to look down at him and the King and Queen of Angleland might begin to scrutinise him. This was all pressure that he didn't need and so he would not allow the information to escape.
The courthouse was packed with members of the public who wanted to see the trial take place. Many of them had not seen a public execution for some time and some were hoping that Tucker was found guilty simply so they could watch him receive the death penalty. Tucker himself had no intention of being found guilty and he only hoped that he could present a reasonable argument so that he could throw enough doubt to get him off the hook.
The jury had been picked at random and none of them had even heard of the name Tucker Martel before his capture so they seemed to be the ideal jury. Deep down though they were siding more with Lord Nostory since he was their lord and had made the city of July very prosperous ever since he came to power.
Tucker himself was placed in a dock while the judge was placed on a high chair that gave him an excellent view of the courtroom and everyone in it. Even Lord Nostory and Jessica's seats were not as high as his. This was to show that in the courtroom the judge had the ultimate authority that even a king couldn't ignore.
The Judge was a harsh man named Fabio Ramirez who was actually a local man. He had overseen many trials that had been below the notice of Lord Nostory but this was probably the most important trial that he ever conducted but he was the man for the job. He was being paid handsomely by Lord Nostory to see his point of view more than that of Tucker. Almost before the trial had even begun it looked like Tucker was doomed but he still had hope that he would come out the other side a free man.
The courtroom was filled and as he looked around all he could see were the faces of strangers. Lord Nostory and Jessica had yet to make their appearance and the court would not begin until their arrival. He held such power over the court that they wouldn't start without him and this was power that couldn't be bought. Lord Nostory demanded respect by all those in the city of July.
It was not until almost an hour after everyone had arrived at the court that Lord Nostory finally made his appearance with Jessica by his side. Many people gasped at her height as she walked past and on top of her dress and gold necklace that she was wearing Lord Nostory had given her rings and bracelets to go along with her beauty. It was an attempt to make her look more ladylike even though she was wearing a peasant's dress. They sat down on two special seats at the courthouse. It gave them a great view of the trial and Tucker couldn't help but stare at Jessica. She was the only friendly face inside the courthouse and she was completely powerless to help him.
Suddenly Tucker heard a loud knocking sound and as he looked up towards the Judge he could see him banging his gavel on the side of his podium so that he could begin the trial. Now was the moment of truth for Tucker as his fate now be decided in a very biased court. He had no idea just how crooked the proceedings were going to be.
"Now that Lord Nostory has graced us with his presence this court of law can begin," said Judge Ramirez as he stopped banging his gavel. "This trial is the city of July versus Tucker Martel for the crime of the attempted murder of Lord Nostory. How does the defendant plea to this charge?"
"Not guilty," replied Tucker with a defiant voice. He had no one to represent him for this trial so he was having to represent himself.
"Do you have anyone to represent you in this court?"
"I would have liked to have one but it seems that no one wanted to defend me so I guess I'll have to defend myself this time around." He looked back for a moment to see the people within the court. "Unless one of these fine people would like to step up and defend me." There was a few seconds of silence and Tucker more or less received his answer. He didn't expect anyone to jump to his aid. "Well it looks like I'll be representing myself for the foreseeable future your honour."
"Very well Mister Martel."
In the dock not too far away from where Tucker was standing was a thin man with thin black hair and a small beard. His clothing was definitely fancier than the ordinary peasant and it was obvious to Tucker that this man was the main prosecutor. This man was named Walter Harrington and had been personally picked by Lord Nostory to represent him and the case against Tucker. He was very good at his job and he had won a high percentage of the cases that he had been involved in.
"Your honour if it pleases the court I would like to begin with my opening argument," said Walter as he looked up towards the Judge. The judge himself gave Walter a small nod to indicate that he was allowed to proceed. "Your honour no more than five days ago Mr Martel here entered the castle of our Lord Hector Nostory and attempted to kill him when his lady friend the soon to be Lady Jessica Nostory accepted his hand in marriage. Lord Nostory's guards were able to subdue him before he could make a decent attempt but intention was there. By the end of this trial the members of the jury along with everyone else in this courthouse will see that Mr Martel is guilty."
With that Walter sat down and it was time for Tucker to make his opening statement. He stood up and took a small walk around the dock as he cleared his throat. There were guards situated all around the courthouse to make sure that he didn't attempt to escape in any way. That would more or less prove his guilt.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury if you don't know who I am, well I am Tucker Martel of Morgan," said Tucker trying to sound important. He looked over at the jury before looking at Jessica. He still couldn't believe what had happened to her and he wondered who was truly worse off him or her. "It is true that I did enter Lord Nostory's castle on that day but at no point did I attempt to murder him. My friend Jessica Snape and I were invited by Lord Nostory to enter and when we did he used some kind of magic spell to rob the mind and will of my friend. She is now nothing more than a zombie who bends to the will of Lord Nostory without giving a second thought. When I attempted to help my friend Lord Nostory's guards attacked me and I was thrown into a dungeon without good reason or a fair trial. When I am found innocent of my so called crimes I demand that my friend be freed and for us to be compensated for the misery that we have both endured."
This was the end of the opening arguments and Tucker thought that he had done a reasonably good job but unfortunately he didn't know just how crooked this court was. He would have more chance of bleeding blood out of a stone rather than actually winning this case. For now he had no idea but he always had the trial by combat if things truly went south and at least then he would stand a chance.
Over the next several hours the prosecution gave evidence to why Tucker was guilty of his crimes and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Witnesses were called and they gave evidence to how Tucker had supposedly tried to kill Lord Nostory. Some described how Tucker had pulled out a knife and tried to stab the heart of Lord Nostory. These were all fabrications but they were winning the jury over.
Lord Nostory himself sat in his seat with a smile on his face. He knew that the trial was going his way and he held onto Jessica's hand. It was not only the size of her hand that had caught his attention but also the warmth and softness of it. He could imagine her growing to her full size and he would lie down in her palm and be in heaven. They were the softest hands that he had ever felt and he wanted his body to be enveloped by this softness.
Jessica was aware of what was happening but found herself unable to stop it. If she could she would have broken down into tears at the very least but due to the necklace she couldn't do this unless Lord Nostory commanded it. She was more or less a prisoner in her own body and she thought that she would never see her best friend again. She thought that he would be convicted and then executed a few days later. Most likely Lord Nostory would make her watch his execution and if that were to happen Jessica's last thread of humanity would be severed. She would be his both body and soul.
Despite the magic that was keeping her a prisoner in her own body Jessica could still feel Tucker within her mind. She couldn't explain it but she could sense his anxieties and fears as he knew that the trial was not going well. She didn't know how exactly she could sense all these but it felt like she had some kind of connection with him. She only hoped that this connection wouldn't be severed.
During the trial Tucker tried to cross examine some of the witnesses but unfortunately defending himself in a court of law was something that he was not his particular strong suit. If it had involved swords and shields he would be more suited but since he was having to use his words rather than his sword skills he was finding it more and more difficult as the trial continued on. The deck was heavily stacked against him and he was having to use all of his intelligence to keep himself afloat so to speak.
The crowd within the courthouse were constantly booing him whenever it was his turn to speak. They had already made their decision that he was guilty and it seemed that the jury had more or less come to the same conclusion. Their minds had more or less been made before the trial had even started thanks to the gold in their purses courtesy of Lord Nostory.
For hours the trial continued to go against Tucker and slowly he realised that he was trying to break through a brick wall with only a needle. The trial had begun unfairly and unless he did something drastic it would end unfairly as well. He looked over to Jessica and he knew what he had to do to have any chance of keeping his freedom.
"Your honour I see that I will get no justice here," said Tucker as he stood up in the dock despite the fact that the prosecutor had been speaking. "From the beginning this whole court has been against me and not been at a neutral stance as it should."
"Hold your tongue Mr Martel," replied the Judge. "You're only making the situation worse for yourself."
"Worse? I am in a trial that is heavily against me and most likely at the end I will lose my life. My friend will forever be trapped with a man who holds her free will hostage. Tell me your honour how exactly can this situation get any worse for me?" There was a brief silence as Lord Nostory realised what was going to happen. It would be a minor inconvenient for him but it was something that he had already planned. "As I said I will find no justice here, therefore I see that my only justice can come from the gods. That is why I am evoking the trial by combat law. I will be my own champion against the champion that either the court or Lord Nostory has picked. When the gods favour my cause and guide my blade everyone in July will see that I am innocent of these crimes."
"Is that your final answer Mr Martel? Once you have demanded a trial by combat there is no opportunity to back out."
"I understand and accept."
"Very well this court is adjourned. Mr Martel has evoked the trial by combat law and he has also put himself forward as his own champion. In this case it would be best for Lord Nostory to pick his own champion. He will have three days to choose his champion to face Mr Martel, then within the grounds of the Castle of July the trial by combat will take place at noon as is law."
"That will not be necessary," said Lord Nostory as he got up to his feet. "I have already chosen my champion." There was a huge smile on his face and a shiver ran down Tucker's spine. He didn't think that he would like what came out of Lord Nostory's mouth next. "I want everyone to witness my choice for a champion. I Lord Hector Nostory, first of my name and rightful Lord of July to hereby choose my fiancé Jessica Snape to be my champion and since the gods favour my cause she will survive without a scratch."