For the next couple of days Jessica and Tucker travelled the relatively short distance towards the coastal town of Logan. When they saw it only a few miles away they did their usual preparation. Jessica would place Tucker on the ground and then shrink to her smallest height and they would make the rest of the way on foot. This was just so that the townspeople weren't frightened by their approach. They would be lying if someone had stated that there was not an air of intimidation when an eight foot woman came walking into town but it was certainly less terrifying than a one hundred and twenty plus foot giantess.
The town of Logan itself was mainly a peaceful town with very little crime besides the few pickpockets that lived there. It was famed as being one of the key towns in Angleland that provided seafood. Many fisherman operated from there since the warm water attracted a large range of fish which helped fund the town's economy.
The town was owned by the Logan family for more than a thousand years and currently Lord Richard Logan was the man who called the shots. He was a wise man who was in his twilight years and a couple of times over the last few years his health had been waning but he was still hanging onto life. His son Sir Peter Logan was the heir to his seat and looked to be a worthy successor. The family were much liked in the town and even Lord Hector Nostory would pay respect to them every so often.
The streets had cobble paths and roads and the buildings themselves were no more than two storeys. The castle just outside of the town was actually the tallest building in Logan and even that one was tiny in comparison to Lord Nostory's castle in July. There were numerous sea gulls in the air that would try and pick off one of the fish caught by the local fisherman, they failed more often than not but every so often the gull would catch its prize. The air itself in the town felt to be cleaner than that anywhere else in Angleland. In truth it was the same as anywhere else but the sea air was thought to be healthier. This was merely a myth but people still believed that sea air was good for them.
The first thing that Jessica and Tucker decided to do was find themselves some food and a decent place to stay. Even if they found the answers that they were looking for they would stay for at least the night before they set back off to the second test. They even ran into a small child who couldn't get over Jessica's height. The boy asked her how she got so tall and Jessica responded that she drank a lot of milk and ate her greens.
Eventually the pair settled down at the Red Herring Inn which was located near the centre of the town. On the walls were the trophies of extraordinary large fish that had been caught by local fisherman over the years. One of the fish that was hung on the wall had supposedly eaten three fisherman before it was caught over twenty years ago. This was most likely just a wild story just to attract tourists.
There were other fisherman related articles on the wall including fish nets, hooks, harpoons and one or two anchors. There was even a piece of wood that bore the name of a ship that had sunk under mysterious circumstances. The weather had been calm that day and there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary that took place. Yet the ship had gone down and all that was recovered were a few shards of wood. All hands had been lost and to this day there were still plenty of wild theories that included a fish that was large enough to eat an entire ship to pirates despite the fact that they rarely came to this side of Angleland.
Since they were in the right setting Jessica and Tucker decided to have a fish dinner to tie them over. Tucker ate a recently invented food which was a cod fish that had been covered in batter and on the side were thin pieces of potatoes. Jessica decided that she should eat the challenge dish that held more than a dozen different species of fish and it was a dish that only a handful of people had ever been able to complete. She knew that if she grew to her full size she would be able to devour the entire dish with some ease. If she ate the entire dish it was free and they would even win a small prize.
Everyone in the inn watched as Jessica ate the dish piece by piece. Even at eight feet in height her appetite was more than the average person. Big men had even attempted this dish and not completed it while Jessica seemed to be doing it with ease. The crowd inside the inn cheered with each fish she ate and there was even a time limit but it didn't seem to matter to her. At no point did she show bad table manners as she ate each fish with grace and it didn't seem like she was just shoving them into her mouth.
Tucker sat on a table that wasn't too far from where Jessica was sitting. Her table was at an elevated position and was reserved only for those who undertook what was called Red Herring Challenge. This was so that everyone inside the inn could see her and Tucker himself did look on but he was concentrating more on his own food, it was not because he didn't care about her challenge. It was just that he already knew that she was going to complete it so he didn't think to take any real notice.
After twenty minutes of the allotted hour time limit Jessica finished the very last part of the dish and the roar of everyone inside the inn was almost deafening. Even though she had eaten the entire dish she still thought that she could fit a little more in there but decided not to because it wasn't all that lady like. Instead she took part in a small amount of celebrations which included her signing a piece of paper which was then placed on a wall which had the other challenge completers. Also she was given a grail which had 'I beat the Red Herring Challenge' inscribed on it along with a small model fish that was no bigger than the average man's finger.
As soon as she did all of this she went to the table where Tucker was sitting and sat down right opposite him. He did acknowledge her and she had a smile on her face as she placed the grail and model fish on the table. The model fish was completely made out of metal and had even been made by one of the local blacksmiths. She did seem somewhat happy and at that moment Tucker himself was just finishing his meal. The dish that he ate was almost exclusive to the Red Herring and they called it 'Fish n' Chips'.
"That was somewhat impressive Jessica," said Tucker as he gave her some credit for completing the challenge. "But I would have thought that you would have wanted to stay out of sight."
"I would do but it isn't really possible for someone who is still as tall as the average man when she sits at a table," replied Jessica. There were no crumbs around her mouth and it was hard to tell that she had even taken part in an eating challenge. "Besides I was really hungry and you know what happens to me when I get that hungry." When she had been stuck at her full size she had easily been able to eat enough to feed many families and then some. Many times she had to stop eating simply because there was no food left. It did embarrass her but with her dress this was a thing of the past.
"Fair enough, I was just worried that Lord Nostory might be a little sore with how everything went down in July. I wouldn't be too surprised if there was a bounty on our heads."
"I doubt it." Her expression changed and she had a more stern look. "He knows what would happen if he even tried. Anyway there are no bounty hunters in Angleland who would be stupid enough to try and capture us." There was a small amount of confidence in her voice as she knew that she had scared Lord Nostory enough that he would never consider trying to track them down. He was probably the only man ever to truly make her angry and she truly didn't know what would happen if they ever met again.
"I still think it is best to keep a low profile, especially since July isn't too far away from here. But if you think that we'll be fine I trust you." He took a drink from his pint before speaking again. "You've never steered me wrong in the past and I seriously doubt that you ever will."
"You know that I would never do that." She gave him a smile as she felt a small rumble in her stomach. She was still a little hungry but she kept that to herself. "Anyway what's our plan of action then?"
"Well on the way to this inn I noticed that there was a library. It might not be as grand as one in Royal City but hopefully there'll be someone there who can help us." He moved his plate since he had finished his meal and began to look at the message that was inscribed underneath. He had looked at it several times over the last couple of days but he still couldn't figure out what it meant. He was sure that it must have been some kind of language that was long dead. "I still can't make heads or tails of what the message says. You haven't figured it out by any chance?"
"No not a clue." She didn't want to admit that her reading skills were not as good as she would have liked. She did have basic reading skills but she couldn't entirely read a book or even write down a message. It was one problem that she had growing up as both a giantess and the daughter of a farmer. They lacked the money to have her learn how to read properly. Her parents did try the best that they could but since their own skills at reading were subpar there was only so much that they could teach her.
"We'll just have to go in the morning. It's too late to go now and besides after everything you've eaten I think you could do with a rest."
"Nah I'm actually fine, in fact I'm wondering if this place serves any pudding. I still have more than enough room for a big apple pie." She gave him another smile as he looked at her with a small amount of astonishment.
"Jessica Snape you never cease to amaze me. Remind me if the next test is some kind of eating contest to make you do it." He did chuckle a little and Jessica just sat there for a moment as enjoyed the time that she was spending with him. She admitted to herself that she would never have gone on a grand adventure like this by herself. She didn't like to admit that it had its downsides like the events in July but she would have still done it all over again just to be by his side. "I don't suppose that you still want to take that grail with us? When we find what we're looking for you can have a grail made out of pure gold and studied with so many jewels that it will sparkle in the light."
"I wanna keep it as a souvenir. Just something to show my folks that I where I've been and what I've been winning."
The grail itself was only cheaply made but it wasn't the physical value that mattered to her but the sentimental value. It was not as valuable to her as something that came from a family or friend but it was still something that she had won and it was the first thing that she had ever won in all of her life.
By the next morning Jessica and Tucker had woken up relatively early and after breakfast they made their way to the library that they had seen before. Jessica was getting some stares from people and even a few of them congratulated her on completing the contest. A few of them even wanted to shake her hand, that was not just because of the contest but some of them just wanted to know what it was like shaking the hand of someone of her size. She did kind of like having some good fame for once. In Morgan she had been famous but for all the wrong reasons. Here it was a nice change of pace and it was a little something that she didn't want to give up too quickly.
One thing that they didn't expect to see was a crowd beginning to gather but it wasn't to encircle the pair. Instead they were gathering around a hangman platform as there were a small amount of armoured men standing there along with a man with clothing that stood him above the lower social circles. The final man on the platform wore nothing but some ragged trousers, he had a thick beard and long black hair and he was being held by a couple of the armoured men who were acting as guards. The crowd were booing at this man and eventually the richer looking man held his hand up and the crowd went silent. Tucker was having a hard time seeing what was happening but Jessica could see everything. It was one additional advantage to her height.
"Roger Maynard!" said the rich man as he looked at the lightly clothed man. He was holding a scroll and he was reading it out. "By a jury of your peers you have been found guilty of the murder of your cousin and attempted murder of his wife. You have been sentenced to death by hanging." His voice was loud enough so that the crowd could hear what he was saying. "Before you depart from this world do you have any last words?" Roger simply looked at the rich man weakly and tried to spit at him but he was standing too far away to be able to strike his target. All this got Roger was a punch from one of the guards and it was strong enough to knock some of his teeth out. "Very well." He then nodded at the guards and they moved Roger towards the noose. They placed a black bag over his head so that his face could not be seen as one of the guards placed the noose around Roger's neck. His hands were bound and he stood over the trap door.
A tall man wearing a black hood that hid his face walked onto the platform. At first Jessica thought that he was there to save Roger. She was contemplating putting a stop to all of this but she decided against it. It would only cause them a lot more trouble and since Roger had been sentenced for his crimes there wasn't much that she could do. It took her a few moments to realise that the man in the hood was not there to rescue Roger but rather he was the executioner.
There was a roar from the crowd as the executioner stepped onto the platform but as he reached the lever the crowd went silent. The next thing that anyone heard was the twitching sound that was made when the trap door opened and the next thing they heard was an inhumane cracking sound. Jessica covered her mouth in shock as she realised that the sound was Roger's neck being broken as he was being hung. The crowd didn't seem to be as horrified as her as they cheered for the death of this murderer.
Tucker himself felt a little indifferent to it. He did feel somewhat sorry for Roger since he too had once been tried and almost killed. On the other hand since it was most likely that Roger was guilty of the crime that he had been executed for Tucker couldn't feel too much sympathy towards him.
With the execution finished the crowd began to disperse. Jessica stood there for a few moments longer as she couldn't really turn away from what she had seen. She could see the guards getting the dead body of Roger and carrying him away as the others left the platform and went about their usual business. She felt a tug on her arm and she looked down to see Tucker standing there. He indicated that they had to move on and slowly Jessica did but she couldn't wash away what she had seen. It was the first time that she had ever seen anyone die and it had upset her deeply.
As they walked towards the library Tucker could see that his best friend was very upset. He even saw her shed a tear and for the moment he had no idea what the matter was. He did think that she was just having one of her moments but he did feel like that he should ask just in case that there was something truly wrong.
"What's up Jessica?" asked Tucker as he looked up at Jessica as they kept walking. Most would think that he had a neck strain having constantly needing to look up at her. He even held onto her large hand to show that he was there for her. Once again it did feel very large and to most people it would be very strange but since he had never known Jessica's hands to be small to him this was the norm.
"We shouldn't have watched that execution," replied Jessica as they continued to walk. "I feel there should have been something that we could have done to stop it from happening." She gave a small sigh as she wiped the tear away from her cheek. "It's not right to take someone's life like that."
"But there's not much that we could have done, besides you heard what happened. The guy had been tried and convicted of his crimes and as far as I know murder leads to the death penalty the vast majority of the time. If you had freed him then you would be committing a crime and helping to free a convicted murderer." He smiled up at her to show that he was trying everything that he could to make her feel better. "Everyone knows that the only thing bigger than your shoe size is your heart. That's what makes you one of the true beacons of light in this part of the world but we can't save everyone. Especially those who have committed such a heinous crime."
"I know what you're saying Tucker but I still feel that we could have done something to help him."
"If it is any comfort just know that his death was quick. The drop snapped his neck and he would have died instantly. Most likely he would not have felt much pain and believe me it was a lot more humane way to die then what would have happened to me in July if events had gone differently."
They had been walking and talking for some time and they hadn't even realised that they had reached the library itself. It was a fairly large building and they were somewhat surprised that they had reached it so quickly. It was one of the perks of not really paying attention when they walked.
The door that led inside was particularly small and even Tucker who was around six feet tall had to duck his head slightly to get through. Jessica had a harder time since this door was smaller than the average. She had to bend down further than usual to fit through and she had to remind herself that for once it was not her that was bigger it was the fact that the door was smaller.
Even when Jessica got through the door and stood to her full height her head struck the ceiling and she gave a small cry of pain. The ceiling itself was only seven and a half feet high and for an eight foot woman it was not ideal. It was an added annoyance that she didn't really need and another reminder that the world around her was too small for her. She kept her annoyance to herself and just took it on the chin like she normally did with most inconveniences in her life.
From what the pair could see there were rows and rows of shelves with books that ranged from those that came around when languages were first being written down all the way to those that had only been written weeks before. Someone who thirst for knowledge would almost be in paradise here. In Logan a high percentage of the population could read and write in comparison to other towns and cities in Angleland. Almost all of the text in this library was non-fiction since fictional tales were rarely written down.
There didn't seem to be anyone else inside the library and Tucker tried to look around to see if he could see anyone. Jessica's height did allow her to survey the area with some ease but the fact that she couldn't stand up straight was annoying for her.
"Hey hello is there anyone here?" asked Tucker as he continued to try and see if there was anyone else inside the library. Jessica followed closely behind but she had to watch out for anything that might be hanging from the ceiling.
The pair eventually began to hear a soft sound. At first they couldn't make out what it was but eventually they could tell that it was someone snoring. They followed the snoring until they came to a man with a relatively large belly asleep on a chair. He looked to be roughly the same age as Tucker and he had brown hair that was a little cropped. He wore normal clothing for the area which included a plain top, woven trousers and well-worn shoes. He even had a small smile on his face as if he were having a nice dream.
Tucker cleared his throat in an attempt to wake up the man. It didn't seem to work so he had to tap him and slowly the man began to stir from his slumber. At first he didn't seem to notice the pair as he stretched himself. It was not until he noticed Jessica and in particular her height did he fall off of his chair in astonishment. He was muffling his words as he stood up and much like Tucker he felt small in comparison to the woman before him. If he knew that she could make herself even bigger he was likely to have a heart attack.
"Are you alright?" asked Jessica in a voice that showed that she was concerned about him. His fall had seemed to be pretty painful but he didn't seem to have any immediate injuries although he could have them internally.
"Y-yes I'm fine," replied the Man as he brushed the dust that was on his clothing. He had not swept the floor for a while so it had been quite dirty. It had taken him a moment to get over his shock before he felt that he could probably help them out. "W-what can I do for you?"
"Let me start by asking if you are multilingual?" answered Tucker. He could see that the man was somewhat intimidated by Jessica so they both thought that it was best that he did all the talking.
"Yes I am." A small smile appeared on his face as he felt a little smug about himself. I have basic knowledge in most languages and are fluent in three."
"Good then there's something I want you to help us with." He went to his satchel where he had placed the map but much to his surprise it was empty. Not only was the map gone but the gold coins that had been in their possession and all of their food. He went silent for a few moments while the man stood there awaiting the request. "Fuck me it's gone!" Tucker's voice was in much shock.
"Wait what?" asked Jessica as she saw Tucker take his satchel off and he took a better look inside. She was horrified by what she was seeing as well and it almost seemed that all their hard work and sacrifice had been for nothing. "Tucker where is the map?"
"I don't know." He was trying to find it in the satchel but there was literally nothing in there except some relatively heavy rocks that seemed to be decoys. "I swear that I put it in here before we left the inn." He began to realise that most likely when he and Jessica had been watching the execution someone had stolen everything from his satchel. All that were left were several large rocks. "What the fuck happened?"
"Let me guess you attended that public execution and now your belongings are gone?" asked the man as he began to realise what had happened. He saw Tucker nodding at him and this caused him to sigh. "I'm afraid that you're a victim of one of the pickpocket gangs around here. They love big gatherings like that since they can pick the pockets and satchels of innocent people and then get away with their ill-gotten gains."
"Where the hell are these gangs?" There was a small amount of anger in Tucker's voice as he realised that he had been robbed. Besides his armour and sword all he had left were large rocks that he could only use as a projectile.
"Ha that's what I would like to know." He gave them a chuckle although neither of them were too impressed with this. "Believe me they're a nuisance and Lord Logan has offered a reward for the capture of them. If I were you I would forget about your losses and try to replace them elsewhere. You won't be finding them any time soon."
"But we can't," said Jessica. She was somewhat annoyed herself but not just because of the fact that their belongings had been stolen but also because of the low ceiling that prevented her from standing to her full height. "The map that we lost is the only one of its kind. We can't find it anywhere else."
"Are you sure about that? My brother's a professional cartographer, he could make you a replacement given the right price."
"We have two problems. The first is that this was a special map and when I say special I mean magical." She still loomed over the man and he was still intimidated by her. He couldn't help it, he was just uncomfortable around women who were taller than him. "The second is that from the looks of it all of our gold has been stolen as well. We can't afford a map, we can't afford to stay in an inn and we don't even have enough money to buy any food."
"Well I hate to use a pun but it sounds like you've got a big problem." No one laughed but then again it was not meant to be a joke.
"You can call me Ben."
"Ok Ben, is there anything that you can do to help us at all." Her voice was very sweet as she was letting go of her annoyance and allowed herself to stay calm. "We really need to get our stuff back."
"There isn't much that I can do to help. But I might be able to point you in the right direction." He quickly took a look around to make sure that there was no one else around. "I've heard rumours that one of these gangs like to frequent a tavern right on the port. It is called The Stern. I don't know if that will be any help but I hope that it helps. I must warn you however, it is not a place you want to find yourself at a disadvantage." He was showing true concern for the pair but Tucker was still feeling somewhat confident. He didn't think that they could face anything that they couldn't handle.
"Don't worry," replied Tucker. "We can more than look after ourselves. Thank you for your help and hopefully we'll see again soon with our map."
With that Jessica and Tucker made their way out of the library as Ben stood there for a moment. He wasn't too sure if he had done the wisest thing but he rather than going after the pair he simply sat back onto his chair and slowly went back to sleep.