It took Tucker a couple more times of asking before Jessica finally released him. She had contemplated leaving him tied up but she had her fun and she untied him. No sooner was he untied he got back up to his feet. He did stagger and Jessica had to catch him before he fell over. It seemed like the effects of the mushroom had not fully dissipated yet so he was quite wobbly on his feet.
In the end Jessica sat Tucker down and gave him some apples that she had brought along. He still felt very hungry and he didn’t hesitate in wolfing down the two apples that she gave him. Even though she was still somewhat angry with him she was still helping him when he really needed it. He felt lucky to have a friend like her and although their short romantic relationship had seemingly come to an end their long standing friendship seemed to still be there.
It took Tucker a couple more hours before he was ready to be walking again without her aid. His head still ached a little but other than that he was fine, his hallucinations had subsided and he was back to being sane of mind. Most of what happened had left his memories but he did remember the white haired girl that he had seen. He wasn’t sure if she had been real or just part of his hallucination. For the time being he didn’t think it was that important so he kept quiet about it.
While Tucker had been recovering Jessica told him that after she had a little time to calm herself down and process what had happened she had decided to try and find Tucker. It didn’t take long for her to do so but she discovered that he was running around as if he had gone truly mad. He had even climbed up a tree so she had to grab him before he jumped and hurt himself. In the end she had no choice but to tie him up with a strand of her own hair to make sure that he was secure. Then all she had to do was wait for him to regain his senses before doing anything else.
Tucker did walk around a little to see if he was truly fine. His body still felt heavy but unlike before he didn’t need Jessica’s aid to walk. He discovered that he still had all his person effects with him so at least he took comfort in the knowledge that he hadn’t been robbed during his episode. He did walk around a little more and he could see Jessica watching him like a hawk.
“You don’t need to worry Jessica,” said Tucker as he looked over to her. “I’ve told you I’m fine.”
“I’ll be the judge of that thank you,” replied Jessica. Now that she was seeing that Tucker was recovering felt a little angrier over what Tucker had done. She was not as angry as she was before but it was still at the forefront of her mind. “I don’t want you to go climbing trees again any time soon.”
“Don’t worry I don’t plan to.” He laughed a little but Jessica didn’t laugh along with him. There was something else that was on his mind which he needed to know. “So are you planning to go back to Morgan?”
“Why do you ask that?” replied Jessica as she crossed her arms. At this point Tucker had walked up to her but he made sure that there was a comfortable amount of space between them.
“Well you said that you were going back to Morgan and I just wanted to know if you were still planning on doing that.”
“Yes I am going back to Morgan.” She gave a bit of a pause as she saw the disappointment on Tucker’s face. “But not until we’ve found the treasure.” She saw his face light up again and she couldn’t help but feel happier inside. “Although I admit that you’re more competent than when we first left Morgan the truth is that there’s still many dangers out there and I couldn’t live with myself if something terrible happened to you. I am still your friend but for now I’m not your lover. I might be again one day but until then we will be friends once again.”
“I-I can live with that.” This was the response that he expected of Jessica. He would have loved nothing more than to become a couple once again but he knew her too well. She wouldn’t accept him back just like that. He knew that he had to earn it and he had already decided that he would do everything he could to do that, He was just glad that she hadn’t completely rejected him.
“Good now it is pointless starting out now. It’ll be dark in a couple of hours and I really don’t like walking around in the dark.” This was true enough for her, on more than one occasion she had been walking in the dark and accidentally tripped on something or crushed it. This was something that she didn’t want happening any time soon so she avoided it almost completely.
“Ok fair enough. I could still use a little more rest after that little trip I’ve been on. I swear I haven’t fully gotten to the ground yet.”
“Well if you go on another trip like that I might not be here to keep you safe.” Tucker could tell what this was, she was basically threatening that if he did that again she would just sit back and watch it happen. He wasn’t sure if she would truly do that but the truth was that he didn’t want to find out.
“I promise I won’t eat anymore mushrooms.” He held his hands and waved them a little in a way to show that he was serious. “Believe me I don’t want to do anything like that again.” He laughed nervously and he could see Jessica giving him a stern look. Even though she was giving this look she couldn’t help but find the whole thing a little funny. She did find it funny when Tucker tried to make a promise like this along with the nervous laugh. A part of her wanted to hug him and give him a series of kisses but she stopped herself from doing this. He still had some way of winning back her love.
“Ok I believe you.” The stern look on her face disappeared and there was a little smile. For Tucker this was a big step forward. It showed that he wasn’t a million miles away from his objective. If he could make Jessica smile a little now he didn’t think that it would take him too long to make her his lover again and not too long after that his wife.
For the next hour or so they talked about exactly where they were going. They wanted to carry onto the Third Trial but they had a slight money problem which needed to be addressed quickly. They knew that they were not far from the infamous Shareshill where a great battle had once taken place some years ago. There were tales of how many of the dead soldiers still fought on that hill. Many people claimed to have seen the ghosts fighting one another under a full moon but as of yet there was no concrete evidence so many folks just took it as a wild story.
Located just west of Shareshill was a newly built castle and keep which was gifted to Lord Tyrone Howlet who was the cousin of the Queen of Angleland. For the last ten years he had been building a great castle which had only recently been completed. He named the castle Indigon after the dark colour of the bricks used to build the castle. There was even a small town filled with folks outside. Originally it was the residence of those who helped build the castle but since then it had begun to grow into a town in its own right. For now it was small but in time it would continue to grow and eventually it might even grow into a city but that was something for another day.
Lord Tyrone was known to be a wise and just man. It was these qualities that had made King Percy give Lord Tyrone the land and means to build his own keep. He was sadly a widower after his wife died bringing a stillborn son into the world. He didn’t lack for heirs though as he had two strong sons and a daughter who was very petite. His eldest son was named Sir Tyrone Howlet and although he was well known for his skills with a sword he was also famous for having a fiery temper. Many people called him Ty for short and so that there was a distinction between the two men. The second son was more known for having his nose in a book than anything else. His name was Leon and many said that he had inherited his father’s wisdom but unlike his brother was not a warrior. His name was also Tyrone He was also not present at Indigon because he was serving King Percy in the grand library of Royal City. The final was Lord Tyrone’s only daughter named Nancy who was said to be one of the most beautiful and witty women in all of Angleland. It was said that she was the embodiment of the best qualities of her brothers. If she had been born a man many would say that she would be the one who should earn the Lordship upon the passing of her father. However due to the laws of succession her brothers and male relatives on her father side were all be considered for the lordship before her.
The next morning Tucker and Jessica awoke pretty late and they soon had some breakfast. For the first time since the beginning of the quest Jessica had willingly slept away from Tucker. During the night she had wanted to hug something that was warm, but she didn’t want him at that moment. She still felt that she needed more time to heal before she let him be hugged at night again.
As was usual when the breakfast was finished Jessica grew to her normal size and picked up Tucker. Rather than keeping him on her shoulder he remained in her hand so that he was away from her face. Tucker would have liked to have gone on her shoulder but he knew that he needed to work his way back up there.
For the next several hours Jessica walked and walked. Not much really happened although they did go passed a small village on the way but they didn’t stop. They just kept going until darkness fell again. It took them almost three days before they saw Shareshill in the distance and a short distance from its base they could see Indigon being baked in the midday sun. It was not as large as Royal City or July but they could tell that it was much larger that Morgan. The keep could be seen from where they were standing and they could see that the bricks were very dark indeed and they could see how it got its name.
They could make out the smaller buildings around the keep which made up the town which for now was also named Indigon but soon might earn a name in its own right. There was also farmland around them and it was easy to see that this was a fully functional society rather than just a collection of buildings.
As was normal with the pair since they were a few miles away Jessica shrunk herself back to her minimal size and they made their approach on foot. They hoped that no one had seen her when she was gigantic. They didn’t want there to be panic but the truth was that it was likely that they would have known who she was. Word of the exploits of the pair on their travels was spreading quickly across Angleland. Some took it as stonewall truth while many others thought that they were simple make believe stories. Only those who had witnessed the actions of the pair could say for certainty.
Although the sun was shining there was a breeze that made it a little cold. Jessica didn’t want to admit it but she felt a little chilly. She would like to go into a building so that she could warm up a little but until then all they could do was walk. She was also feeling tired after walking for so many days and she was looking forward to sitting down and giving her feet a much needed rest.
Tucker was just eager to get a warm meal in his belly but the problem was that they didn’t have the money that they needed for such a luxury. They had already decided that when they arrived that they would have to find some way of making a bit of money so that they could buy some fresh food and even sit down for a warm meal. Neither were very good at cooking so anything they tried to cook didn’t turn out very nice. Jessica tried especially hard to cook but it seemed that everything she tried just came out wrong. It was another attempt of hers to show that she was normal but this was something that was just out of her grasp and it wasn’t because of her lack of cooking skills.
It took the pair a good hour and a little bit to reach Indigon. The first person that they saw was a fairly old man who was standing near the entrance to Indigon. Since like in most places in Angleland people couldn’t read or write so when they wanted to know the news they would have a herald to relay the news to them.
Before the pair fully entered Indigon they noticed that the streets were not as populated as they had expected. They did see a few people but not the numbers that they had been expecting to see in a growing town. They had not walked passed the herald just yet so Tucker decided that it was best to ask a couple of questions.
The Herald stood on a large box so that he was taller than anyone around him. This was not because he wanted to be tall but because it helped him get noticed in a crowd of people and his voice would be easier to carry over a distance. He wore a brown cloak with a hood which prevented the pair from what he was wearing underneath. He had a large stick that helped him stand up properly and his thick white beard almost made him look like a man of the faith. He noticed Tucker and Jessica immediately and he was surprised to see Jessica’s height, he was seeing eye to eye with her and that was something that never happened when he stood on his box.
“Good afternoon my good man,” said Tucker with a small smile on his face. He was trying to show that he was friendly and didn’t intend any harm on the man. “Any chance you can tell us why the town is so empty?”
“Have you not heard?” replied the Herald. He had a powerful voice and it was easy to see why he had been chosen as a herald. “Lord Howlet is hosting a great tournament in honour of his keep being completed. Today is the last of the preparations so most of the townsfolks are making sure the last details are complete. It is also the last day to sign up as well and since you look like a man who can handle himself I advise you to enter. Lord Howlet has allowed anyone to enter ranging from we peasants all the way up to knights and high-borns. That is of course those who can afford the entry fee.”
“That is a problem, we’re a little strapped for cash right now so I don’t think we can enter.” There was a small amount of disappointment in his voice. Since he was small he had wanted to fight in tournaments such as this so that he could prove his skill and valour before a large crowd.
“I believe trades are accepted…” He took another look at Jessica who for now had remained silent. “And you are by far the tallest woman I’ve ever seen.”
“Yeah you’re not the first to tell me that,” replied Jessica. She didn’t like when people told her that she was tall. She heard it everywhere she went and it seemed like now would be no different.
“Say you wouldn’t happen to be Jessica Snape now would you?” He could see a surprised look on her face when he said her name.
“You’ve heard of me?” Her annoyance turned into genuine surprise. She didn’t think that he would know who she was.
“Of course, you’re the one who broke free from July and is said to be as tall as a mountain. You’re also supposed to be pleasing to the eye and I am very happy to see that that part of tales are true. I see that you’re tall but thankfully you’re not as tall as a mountain.” He had a smile on his face and the pair could see that he was missing a few of his teeth and the ones he had left were yellow.
“Yeah that part is a little exaggerated.” She then made herself grow a few inches and this was noticed instantly by the herald. “But I can make myself much taller than this.” A part of her liked the fact that tales about her were being passed right through Angleland. Rather than being scared of her the herald seemed to be intrigued with her. He had not seen her at her full size but she would not grow that large here, the chances of damaging a property was too great and she didn’t want to scare him.
“By the gods it is true.” He looked at her in complete shock and quickly she did shrink back down to her smallest height. “I thought the stories of you being able to grow were make believe. I see now that they were telling the truth.”
“If you’ve heard of Jessica that means you’ve heard of me as well,” said Tucker as he interrupted the herald before he could say another word. He felt happy to think that his exploits were spreading throughout Angleland. He began to think about what his family would say once they heard them. He thought that they would think that he was becoming a real hero.
“Erm…” The Herald looked at Tucker a few moments but he didn’t seem to know who he was at all. He did think that he might look like someone that he knew. “You’re not the butcher’s apprentice are you?”
“No I’m Tucker Martel.” He seemed greatly shocked to see that the Herald didn’t recognise him.
“No I’m sorry, the name doesn’t ring any bells.” He was not doing this in any way to annoy Tucker, it was because he genuinely had not heard of him.
“I’m Jessica’s constant companion and I have gotten her out of a few tight spots since we began our adventure.” He hoped that this little explanation would help jog the memory of the herald. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to work.
“Nope haven’t heard about Jessica having a companion. Maybe there are other tales where your exploits are mentioned.” Tucker was completely speechless, he couldn’t help but feel a hint of jealousy towards Jessica for having these stories and yet nothing was mentioned about him in any of them. “As much as I have enjoyed our conversation I have other duties to attend.”
The herald gave them a little bow before stepping off his box. It was only when he was off his box could he truly appreciate Jessica’s height as she towered above him. He looked up at her for a few moments before walking away. This left the pair by themselves and for a moment they were silent. Jessica still felt happy that there were people in the world who had heard of her and weren’t even scared of her. Tucker was disappointed that he had been left out of the stories. He didn’t think that he could make that much of a name for himself if he was being left out like that. He did have an idea of a way to leave some kind of legacy but he didn’t think that Jessica was going to like it.
“So what now?” asked Jessica as she looked down at Tucker. Although he felt small compared to her it didn’t diminish his manhood.
“Isn’t it obvious?” He gave her a little smile as he looked up at her. “I’m going to enter that tournament and win enough gold to let us go wherever we need to.” He gave a little pose to show that he was ready but Jessica didn’t seem to be impressed and she placed her hands on her hips.
“If you’re not forgetting we don’t have any money.” She thought that this would put an end to the discussion once and for all. Although she would have liked to have seen in the tournament she was worried about him getting injured.
“Didn’t you hear him? They accept trades and I believe that Juggernaut and my shield will be worth more than the entry fee. When I win the tournament I can simply buy them back.” He knew that since this was only a tournament the combatants wouldn’t use real swords but instead they used blunted swords that were also used for practice. These would be supplied at the tournament.
“You mean if you win the tournament, if you lose then you will also lose your sword and shield and you won’t be much of a knight without those.” Once again she thought that it would end the discussion but she was wrong.
“Do you have so little faith in my abilities? Have I not proven to you that I’m more than capable with a sword?” He had a smile on his face which just oozed confidence. “You know I can take practically any man down.”
“I admit that you are capable but I just don’t want to see you getting hurt.” It wasn’t just that, she genuinely thought that Tucker didn’t have the skills to win the tournament. She knew that he was more skilled then when they left Morgan but she knew that there were more capable sword wielders in Angleland and she thought that many of them would come to the tournament.
“You don’t need to worry about that, they’re blunted swords so the worst I can get is a bruise or two. It’s not like I’m going to have my throat cut or lose an arm. I’m going to fight my way to the top and then keep on going.”
“Are you sure you’re going to do that?” She just hoped that her words could convince him to change his mind. She even gave him a look to show that she wasn’t feeling as confident as him.
“Of course.” He took Juggernaut out of its sheath and thrusted it forwards. Thankfully there was no one in front of him or even around him. “I have shown you on many occasions that this sword is not a simple weapon but an extension of my arm. You have seen me in action on more than one occasion and you have to admit that I’m no novice when it comes to the art of swordplay.”
“Tucker I…” She was going to say something else to try and convince him otherwise but she knew that she was just wasting her breath. She gave a loud sigh and used her index finger and thumb to rub her eyes. “Ok if you want to enter that’s fine but don’t get upset if you don’t win and lose your sword and shield.”
“I promise you Jessica that won’t be happening.” The smile on his face only grew as anticipation for the tournament. He wanted to test his skills against some of the greatest swordsmen in Angleland but unlike Jessica he truly believed that he would win. After completing the first two trials his confidence in his abilities were at their highest and it didn’t seem like anything could shake it.
Despite the fact that Jessica didn’t think that he would win the tournament she was still willing to cheer him along and hope that he did in fact win. She would feel awful if she didn’t help him in some way win the tournament. She knew that she couldn’t get involved at all so cheering from the side lines was the best choice she had. Her expression changed from one of sceptism to that of encouragement.
“Well if you want to enter then I suggest that you hurry,” said Jessica. She placed her hand on his shoulder and she continued to smile down at him. Her smile only made his confidence grow and he felt that the bridge between the pair was still being repaired. “You heard the man, the final registrations are taking place right now so if you don’t hurry you’ll miss the deadline.”
“By the gods you’re right.” He then began to run towards the castle and Jessica just watched as he ran. “I’ll meet you there!” He shouted this as he ran further and further away from her, with each step he got closer and closer to the castle and in his mind his ticket to fame and glory.
Jessica continued to stand there for a few moments and although she didn’t think that he would win she couldn’t help but feel somewhat happy for him. He was living out something that he had been wanting to do and she couldn’t help but wish him all the luck in the world. She just slowly began to walk towards the castle but unlike her companion she wasn’t in that much of a hurry to do this. She just took her time and she wasn’t afraid of losing Tucker, she knew that she would easily find him again so she just gave herself time to look at the buildings that she walked passed. Even if she did lose him Tucker would more than easily spot her in a crowd.
Tucker continued to run towards the castle and as he ran he could see more and more people the closer that he got. He could see people carrying equipment for the seating area which was just being finished. He also noticed knight looking men drinking with one another and generally talking to each other. He figured that these were going to be his opponents and he did study them a little as he went passed them. They came in all different shapes and sizes, he could judge which ones relied more on power while others he could tell needed speed to down their opponents.
Eventually he came up to a small wooden shack where there was one person signing up to the tournament. There was a bald man sitting down and writing down details on a piece of paper while there were another two men who were standing behind them. Tucker couldn’t hear what was being said but he could see the man signing up give the other man a small pouch which he assumed had gold. The bald headed man open the pouch and took a look at one or two of the coins. He then gave the man a small piece of paper and sent him on his way.
This was when Tucker decided to walk up to the shack. He was a little out of breath after running such a distance but he still put on a brave face and tried to show that he was not fatigued at all. The three men weren’t particular impressed by him but they just stood there and watched him approach. They saw that he was carrying weapons but they still didn’t think that he was going to rob them. Even if he did somehow steal their gold it would be difficult for him to escape scot free.
“Hello there gentlemen,” said Tucker as he approached them. He had a lot of confidence in his voice but the men remained unimpressed. “I’m here to sign up for the tournament which is taking place at this fine castle.”
“Before we go any further do you have the gold required to enter?” replied the bald man. He had a slight lisp in his voice which had at one point in his life been worse but he had been able to improve his voice.
“I don’t have any gold but I was informed that you accept trades.” None of the confidence disappeared from his voice as he remained confident.
“And what do you have to trade?” He looked at Tucker for a few moments and he didn’t really think that he had anything of value.
“Well I’ll start off with this.” He withdrew Juggernaut from its sheath and at first the men thought that he was going to threaten them but instead he placed it right in front of the bald man. “This is a good quality sword that makes little work of anyone unfortunate enough to be on the wrong end.” He saw one of the men behind the bald man pick up the sword and he began to inspect it. “I also have this fine shield that has protected me from many deathly blows.” He took his shield off of his back and placed it in front of the bald man as well. The other man standing behind it also picked it up and began to inspect it. “That should more than cover the entry fee.”
“We’ll see.” He then turned to the man inspecting Juggernaut. “Do you think that sword is worth anything?”
“Yeah it’s a nice sword,” replied the man. “Not the best quality I’ve seen but one worthy of a warrior. Worth a few gold coins but maybe just a little below what’s required.” He continued to look and inspect the sword.
“I see.” He then turned to the second man who was still inspecting Tucker’s shield. “And do you believe that this shield will cover the rest?”
“Indeed,” replied the second man. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. Unusually strong for a shield. I can’t put an exact value on it but it will be enough to cover the fee.” He knocked it a few times and he was somewhat surprised to hear the sound that came off of it. He could tell that it was good quality.
“Well it looks like you’re in,” said the Bald Man to Tucker who had had a smile on his face. “Now we can go through a few of your details before you’re fully registered.”
“Ask away,” replied Tucker. “I have nothing to hide.”