There was a moment of silence between the two friends as they had come to an impasse. They had a set of defeated thieves who were completely at their mercy and they both had some ideas of what to do with them. Tucker wanted to take them in so that they could claim the rewards posted by Lord Logan. Unfortunately it would most likely lead to the deaths of the thieves and this was something that Jessica could not allow. She did think that Tucker was right in the sense that they couldn't just let the thieves go since they would just keep stealing from innocent people once again.
"So what do we do then?" asked Jessica with her arms crossed. She waited to hear what Tucker was going to say, she didn't think that he would come up with a decent enough idea for her to agree with.
"Maybe we can still take them to Lord Logan but maybe we can ask for mercy on them," replied Tucker. "Have them locked up in cells for a while and maybe if we don't accept the reward money it might help influence his decision. Right now that's the best idea I can come up with since they will still be punished for their crimes and yet they will not be killed so that should make us both happy."
"That's going to be risky to say the least. You entire plan hinges on the whim of a single man."
"I know it's risky but do you have any better ideas?" He had to wait for a moment as Jessica didn't speak a single word. All she did was give out a small sigh as she admitted to herself that there wasn't much they could do in this circumstance.
"Ok fine we'll do that." There was a small amount of annoyance in her voice but she did take some comfort in the fact that Tucker had listened to her and was even willing to give up the reward to make her happy.
"Good, now we better be quick before these guys decide to wake up." He rubbed his hands together in some happiness.
A few minutes later inside the great hall of the castle just outside of Logan the Lord Richard Logan himself sitting on his seat and he was discussing a few different things with other important figures from Logan. They felt a few small shudders in the ground which was somewhat unusual but since the shudders were so weak there was no reason to be truly alarmed.
Instead the group just carried on with their discussions such as the next harvest festival but before long a lone guard came into the great hall and he seemed to be in a state of surprise. Lord Logan who in his younger days had been the definition of fitness but in his later years had turned fat with a thick red beard. He was completely bald with a small scar on his left cheek which he picked up in a training accident.
"Lord Logan I apologise for interrupting but there is something that has popped up which requires your immediate attention," said the guard. He was only a young man who had only been working there for a few short months.
"What is it boy?" replied Lord Logan. He was a good natured man but he wasn't above getting annoyed. "Spit it out."
"There is some bounty hunter and a monster waiting outside. And they wish to speak with you."
"A monster you say?" He found this hard to believe since he didn't think that actual monsters existed. There were the occasional tales of dragons but they had not been seen in this part of Angleland for some years. "I find that hard to believe." He thought that it was most likely a man who suffered from some kind of deformity.
With some amount of haste Lord Logan made his way to the main entrance of his castle. As usual he was surrounded by guards since he knew that by meeting a pair who were called a Bounty Hunter and a Monster it would be foolish to meet them unprotected. He was somewhat annoyed that he had been bothered about this but he did want to find out exactly what was going on.
It was only when he opened the main door that led out of the castle did he see a giant foot a fair few metres away. This took him by surprise but as he looked up he could see Jessica standing there. She smiled down at him as a way to seem less threatening and Tucker was sitting on her shoulder. As usual he had a piece of her hair wrapped around him for protection from falling. In her hands lay the now conscious bodies of the Children Of Lankin. Each one of them had been tied up and could not move. They could have rolled but if they rolled off of Jessica's hand they would have easily fallen to their deaths.
Lord Logan gave a small shriek of shock as he looked at Jessica and almost immediately he went to go back inside but he knew that he had to stay brave. He had fought against many opponents who were intimidating and for the moment since Jessica hadn't done anything aggressive he was willing to keep his nerves for the time being.
"Hi there," said Jessica as she knelt down. She was speaking with her calmest voice so that she didn't panic the somewhat old man. "Please don't be scared we come in peace." Gently she placed the thieves on the ground, they had been laying in the palm of her hands but most of them were just glad to be back on the ground. "I believe that you've been looking for these guys."
"The Children Of Lankin?" This had caught him by surprise but he did recognise them for what they were. The pickpocket gangs wore specific attire to distinguish one group from another. He was too busy looking at the thieves to notice Jessica placing Tucker on the ground before slowly shrinking down to her smallest size.
"Yes they gave us a bit of a run for our money but we still captured them," said Tucker as he took a step towards Lord Logan. There were a couple of guards standing between him the Lord himself.
"Incredible, I would have thought that maybe a bounty hunter could bring in one or two at a time but not six."
"Well you can thank my very tall friend for that."
"Yes indeed." He went to speak on but when he looked at Jessica he was very surprised to find that she had shrunk down to eight feet in height. It did make her seem less threatening than before. "Wow wait you're Jessica Snape."
"What you know who I am?" replied Jessica with some shock. She had expected him to actually know who she was.
"Of course." One by one the thieves were picked up and taken away by other guards after a couple of hand signals by Lord Logan himself. "You were the remarkable woman who was supposed to marry Lord Nostory of July. Believe me word of events like that spread quickly amongst the lords and ladies of the land." He then looked at Tucker for a moment before continuing to speak. "And you must be Tucker Martel unless I'm mistaken." Tucker was not as surprised that Lord Logan knew his name. If he had heard of Jessica there was a good chance that he would have heard of Tucker also.
"Yes that's right," replied Tucker. It seemed that everything was going better than he had expected but the most crucial part of the whole meeting was still to come and if it didn't go their way he didn't know exactly how Jessica would react.
"I thought so. I received a raven about what took place in July and I must admit I'm somewhat impressed. I don't think anyone has ever made Lord Nostory as angry as you have. And when I heard about a young woman who could grow as tall as a mountain was just some kind of tall story so to speak. Now I see that not only is it true but she is a very beautiful creature to say the least.
Jessica wanted to return the compliment but she began remembering how things had started out in July and how quickly they had gone downhill. She kept herself composed as she feared that history was about to repeat itself.
"You honour me with your words," said Jessica. She still remembered her manners and the fact that she was talking to a lord. "But before we go any further this is something else that we need to discuss."
"Oh and what's that?" He was very curious since he had thought that this was going to be a very quick meeting. He kept his guards close just in case Jessica and Tucker tried anything against him.
"Those thieves that we've just brought to you, what will happen to them now?" This was the big question that she had been wondering.
"Well I suppose that they'll be hung. They have been terrorising my town for years and I see no other fitting punishment." This was not the news that Jessica had wanted to hear and she knew that she had to do something to save the lives of the thieves that they had captured. "May I request that you spare their lives?" She even got down to her knee to show even more respect. "Please I beg of you, I do not want to be the reason for the death of anyone be they good or evil. If you will spare their lives my friend and I are willing to give up the reward money. Please show them mercy."
"You really want me to spare the lives of those degenerates? I highly doubt that they would have the same compassion for you if the roles were reversed." He found what was happening extremely strange since very rarely did a bounty hunter wish for their target not to be killed. He wanted to see where this would lead.
"Then we must show that we are better than they are. There is no justification for taking the life of another. I beg you Lord Logan please spare them."
"Hmm I respect your character Miss Snape." This was true but he also didn't want to do anything that might enrage her. He had heard how she almost killed Lord Nostory although he didn't think that he was in immediate danger. "If that is what you wish then so shall it be. They will be thrown into the dungeons and left there to rot for a period of time of my choosing. Maybe after that they'll decide to be model citizens although I doubt it. Of course your reward money will go towards making sure that they're fed and so on. Keeping a man in a dungeon and also trying to keep them alive does cost some gold and since we have six of them you can imagine how the costs will go up."
"I thank you for your mercy Lord Logan." She then stood up to her full height and she was actually happy. Tucker himself was somewhat disappointed since they had lost the reward money but Jessica's happiness was worth a lot more to him than gold. They had taken their gold back from the thieves along with their other possessions including their map. What was most important had been returned so he was somewhat happy about this. "If there is nothing else to discuss then we will be on our way."
"Before you leave you have to have some kind of reward. Since you were willing to give up the gold I can give you food."
Jessica and Tucker wanted to accept but the problem was that after their experience in July they were a little weary of Lords. They knew that Lord Logan would most likely be a lot nicer than Lord Nostory and very unlikely to throw them in the dungeon. Despite this they wanted to be cautious.
"Thank you very much for the offer my lord but we will have to decline," said Tucker who was speaking for the both of them. "We have more than enough food for what we need and merely doing you a service is payment enough."
"Very well you are indeed a rare pair," replied Lord Logan. He respected what he was seeing and he could also see the hint of fear in them as well. "But still you cannot be unrewarded, you can at least take this." He made a couple of hand gestures to his guards and one of them went inside the castle. It only took him a few moments to return with a piece of paper and a quill pen. He then signed something on the paper and past it over to Tucker. The wannabe knight took a look at it but he wasn't sure of what it was. "That there is a Distinction Of Logan, with this you are recognised as an ally of Logan. Lords who are also considered to be my allies will be more lenient towards you and even grant you some greater freedoms than normal citizens. From what I've seen of you pair I doubt that you'll get yourself into too much trouble with the law but if you do this will help you out with lesser crimes. Other crimes deemed more serious I'm afraid that you're on your own with that one. Somewhat imagine it as an I.P. pass."
"A what pass?" asked Jessica as she looked over Tucker's shoulder at the writing on the paper.
"Imagine it as being a step down from a V.I.P pass." He was not just rewarding them for their seeming willingness to give up the reward and sparing the lives of the thieves. He was not a fan of Lord Nostory and enjoyed the fact that they had taken him down by a peg or two. When he had heard he laughed for some time and he had not thought that he was going to have the opportunity to reward them.
"I see." She did bow down to him for a moment. "We thank you Lord Logan for this gift that you have given us."
"You're welcome and don't forget that you are always welcome to come back to Logan. If you brought any wanted crooks then that would be even better. I hope that you find what you're looking for and now I bid you farewell."
With the map back in their possession and the thieves taken by Lord Logan, they could get on with what they originally came to do. Jessica and Tucker wasted no time in going back to the library so that they could return to Ben who could hopefully translate the text that had appeared on the bottom of the map.
This time when they entered the library they could see that Ben was awake and sorting some of the books that was one the shelves. Jessica did have to go through the annoying part where she was too tall to properly stand up without her head touching the ceiling. If it meant that they would be out of here quicker and back on with their quest that was even better for her and Tucker.
Ben didn't waste any time in looking at the map that he had been given and he looked at the text before him. He was surprised by what he could see and the curious look that he gave did somewhat worry Tucker. Ben rubbed his chin as he tried to recognise the language that was written down. This was noticed by Tucker who became increasingly worried since if the text couldn't be translated their quest would end here and now. Jessica had not noticed but she was still curious.
"What does it say?" asked Jessica who was standing behind Ben and looked over him. He was still uncomfortable about the fact that she was easily two feet taller than him but he still tried his best.
"To tell you the truth I don't know," replied Ben as he continued to look at the text. "It isn't like any language I've ever come across. I may not be fluent in every language in history but I still know enough to recognise the language. This one isn't like any language I've ever come across before."
"So what now?" replied Tucker as he felt the goal of the quest starting to slip away. He was facing the prospect of returning to Morgan empty handed and he knew that he would be humiliated.
"All is not lost. I do have a theory but it might just take me a moment to figure it all out." He took another good look at the message and began to go through a few things in his head. He concentrated on the first word and after he had finished his calculations he was almost certain that he was indeed correct. "To tell you the truth I don't think that this is another language but instead a code. I believed that whoever wrote it used what I called a reverse alphabet."
"A reversed alphabet. It is written in the common tongue but the alphabet is reversed so to speak. A becomes Z, B becomes Y, C becomes X and so on."
"Can you decipher what it is says?" He was beginning to get excited as he sensed that the quest was not actually over.
"It will take me a couple of minutes but I should be able to find out what it says. It is as good as translated."
With that Ben took out a piece of paper and a quill pen. He began to look carefully at the message on Tucker and Jessica's map and one by one he reversed the letters. As the minutes went by the pair could see a clear message being written before and all they needed to do was to allow Ben to finish. For Tucker each moment felt like a lifetime and he was beginning to become impatient.
"There we go I believe that this is it," said Ben as he looked at the message that he had just written down on the blank piece of paper.
"Oh thank the gods," replied Tucker who was about to say something else if Ben had not finished at the moment that he did. He didn't realise that when he said thank the gods, one of the gods was much closer than he suspected. The demi-goddess Gwen was still sitting on Tucker's shoulder but she was still too small for anyone to see. She could see and hear everything that was taking place but everyone was oblivious to her presence. "So what does it say?"
"Well it says 'What you seek cannot be found with the eye. Only one with a purest of hearts by the tallest tree and find what you seek.'"
For Tucker this was an extremely happy moment and he even wrapped his arm around Jessica and jumped up and down a little in celebration. For Ben he thought that it was a little strange but Jessica was used to it. She had seen him happy on more than one occasion and what he did when he was happy.
"That's it!" shouted Tucker as he didn't care who heard him. "We can finally get on with our quest and be rich beyond our wildest dreams!" Already the trip to the second trial had taken much longer than he had expected. They had taken a few detours along the way but now he actually thought that they had a decent chance of finding the treasure and being insanely rich.
"Hey don't let the whole world know," replied Jessica as she placed her hand on his shoulder to calm him down. Her hand was so large that it more or less covered up his shoulder.
"Oh sorry." His voice had quietened down as he knew that he had to be cautious. They had already gone through a series of unfortunately events and he knew that he was tempting fate by doing this.
Ben wasn't sure of what to make out of all of this. He didn't have too much of an idea that Tucker and Jessica were on a quest. But the truth was that he couldn't really care less, he was happy enough with reading about quests in books and he had no interest in actually taking part in one. He was not unrewarded for his help as Tucker gave him a few gold coins for his troubles.
In his haste Tucker wanted to leave Logan as soon as possible and go back to the area of the second trial but it was already going dark and Jessica was too tired to walk anywhere. He hated to admit that they would have to stay for an additional night so that they could rest up and continue the next morning.
One thing that was also unfortunate for the pair was the fact that their first choice of accommodation was not available to them. The Red Herring Inn was full so they had to stay in an inn that was not as grand. It was cheaper however but the room was uncomfortably small. The ceiling was only seven feet high so the eight foot Jessica was very uncomfortable inside. There was only a single bed and like the gentleman Tucker was he allowed Jessica to take the bed. Unfortunately it was only six feet long so when she lay on it her feet came off the end. Her feet even touched the floor when she lay on the bed and to her it was another reminder that she was living in a world that was too small for her.
At least for Jessica the bed was somewhat comfortable but for Tucker that was sleeping on the ground it was incredibly uncomfortable. It felt like something was constantly sticking into his side and he felt that someone was actually poking him. He would have loved nothing more than to have slept on the bed but he didn't want to move Jessica so he just had to make due.
Eventually Tucker did go to sleep when fatigue won over his comfortability. He didn't notice the near microscopic speck that was Gwen step off his shoulder. As soon as she landed on the ground she enlarged herself to around five feet tall. She had been entertained that day but now that Tucker and Jessica were asleep she knew that she would become bored. She wanted to have a little fun around town before returning to the pair. She figured that she could do what she wanted while they were asleep and return to Tucker's shoulder before they woke up.
Gwen remembered what happened the last time she came to Logan. Back then it was nothing more than a couple of huts located in the northeast of the continent. She allowed herself to grow so large that she was able to pick up the ground around the huts and bring them down to the southwest where she knew that they would have a better life. Unfortunately this act of kindness had long been forgotten by the people of Logan since it took place many thousands of years ago when humanity had no form of writing.
As Gwen left the inn she planned to go somewhere where she could have a bit of fun, there were many taverns that stayed open for many more hours and she thought that she could find some entertainment there. For now she stayed her current size even though she considered herself to be short.
At this hour there were not many people on the streets of Logan since most decent people were asleep. Most of the people on the streets were either drunks who were trying to find their way home or others who still wanted to have a drink or two.
Eventually Gwen found herself at the front door of a tavern located at the furthest east point of Logan. She could hear that something was going on inside and her curiosity made her go inside and see what was happening. As she entered the tavern itself she could smell the stench of numerous men with body odour problems mixed with low quality ale. The only light source within the tavern was a large log fire and a few fire torches scattered around on the walls.
Gwen could see two men sitting at a table with a crowd of people around them. The two men were arm wrestling and both men were incredibly muscular and the match was not that much of a sport but more like a war as both of them tried to get an advantage over the other. It had been going on for a few minutes with each man almost being defeated by the other. The crowd were in uproar as they watched the action unfold.
It took another few minutes for one of the men to finally take the advantage that he needed and defeat his opponent. When the match had finally finished there was a roar from the crowd and one of them even lifted the victor's arm in the air as the loser got up and slowly walked away. The victor was laughing and he took a drink out of his large wooden cup that held the cheap ale that Gwen had been able to smell. As he stood up to his feet he was easily seven feet tall and his muscles were easily seen by everyone in the tavern. He was a good natured man who was not particularly aggressive. His muscles were thanks to his trade as a lumberjack and his laugh was deep.
"I think I have one more good game left in me!" shouted the Victor. He looked around and he towered above everyone in the tavern and he didn't even see Gwen because she was in amongst the other people. "So is there anyone brave enough to test their strength against mine." At first there was no answer as everyone knew that they would not stand a chance against him. He almost thought that he wasn't going to have another opponent until Gwen's voice was heard as she volunteered herself. People stepped away from her so that the man had a clear view of her and he began to laugh. "Is this some kind of joke?" His laugh only became louder and Gwen was confused.
"Why would it be a joke?" replied Gwen with some surprise in her voice. She had seen the game of arm wrestling a few times during her last travels to Angleland and so she did know how to play.
"Well isn't it obvious? I'm a big guy." He did a little pose with his arm so that everyone could see how muscular he was. "And you're a little woman, I'm sure you can arm wrestle but it won't be a fair fight."
"Oh I see, my size is the problem." She had suddenly realised what she had done wrong and quickly she began to grow much to the surprise of everyone in the tavern and especially the man himself. Not only did her height increase but she was also manipulating the size of her muscles so that they grew as well. Everyone gasped and moved further away from her as the process continued and once again the clothing that Gwen was wearing changed size along with her. She didn't stop growing until she was as tall and muscular as the man she was challenging and she took a quick look down at herself before looking over at him. "Is this better?"