Jessica continued to walk south away from Lake Town and towards the source of the River Red. She knew which direction that she needed to go but one thing that she did notice was that Tucker was unusually quiet. She thought that she had just saved him from the Wolf and she thought that he would have been happy. Instead he had barely spoken a word since the incident and she didn't know what was wrong. For the moment she allowed him to be like this as she continued to walk on. She knew that they wouldn't be welcome again in Lake Town due to her growing to full size and this meant that all they could do was carry on walking.
One thing that Jessica also noticed was that the golden necklace that had been given to her by the old lady had somehow grown with her when she increased her size. In the past jewellery had never grown with her until now. She didn't know whether this was because the necklace had magic properties or that she had somehow unlocked the ability to make things grow with her that wasn't her dress or shoes.
These were all questions that she would have to answer later but as she continued to walk Tucker was still not talking to her. She was starting to begin to get worried and she stopped for a moment and brought him up to her level. He had been sitting in her oversized hand and for once he was not pleased to see her pretty face in front of him.
"What's wrong Tucker?" asked Jessica as she took a good look at him. "You've barely spoken two words to me since we left Lake Town."
"You shouldn't have done that," replied Tucker with a hint of annoyance in his voice. He was hiding just how annoyed he was with his best friend right now.
"Done what exactly Tucker?" She was confused and she really wanted to know what he was talking about.
"You shouldn't have broken up the fight like that. I could have taken that guy down myself, I had the situation under my control and then you came along and broke up the fight. Do you know how that makes me feel? All those people were there expecting to see a soon to be knight defeating a man with an anger problem. But instead you stopped the fight before I could even land a blow and now they all think that I depend on you to win my battles."
"They don't think that."
"But I do, how can I prove myself if you keep interfering in my battles before I even get a chance to show what I can do. For once could you let me fight my own battles so that I can have some sense of adventure."
"If you had lost that battle you would have been killed for sure. I saw the anger in that man's eyes and if you had made just a single mistake he would have cut you in half and that was something I wasn't going to allow."
"I wouldn't have died, I would have defeated him."
"You didn't look like you were doing very well."
"That was because I was letting the big brute tire himself out. I would have waited for fatigue to set in before I struck. The sword that he was using was too heavy for him to swing around for too long. I was just waiting for my moment to strike until you grew and picked us both up."
"Well maybe next time I won't do anything and I'll just let him slice you in half." She was becoming annoyed and she was saying things that she truly didn't mean. Deep down she would never allow something like that to happen but Tucker was beginning to get on her nerves. She knew that she had done the right thing and she didn't like it that Tucker hadn't even said thank you.
"Next time you should so that everyone knows that I don't have to hide underneath your skirt every time I run into danger. What kind of knight would I be if I had to run to a woman every time I saw a threat?"
"The kind that will still be alive. You know that I would never willingly allow you to face danger. I would be a bad friend."
"Babying me isn't going to make me prove that I'm a knight. If anything it's only going to hinder me."
Jessica was starting to become somewhat annoyed at Tucker. He wasn't being thankful for her saving him and it seemed that he was biting her head off over it. If he was anyone else she would have put him down and simply walked away but there was one thing that she could never do to her best friend. Instead she frowned at him and brought him a little closer to her face.
"Fine if you wanna show that you're a big strong man the next time that you face danger I won't save you," said Jessica in an irritated voice. "Will you be happy with that at least?" She saw that Tucker was a little scared of her right now but at this moment in time she was too annoyed with him to really care.
"Yeah that's fine by me," replied Tucker trying to hide just how intimidated he was by his best friend.
"Good now I don't want to have this conversation again."
This had been one of the few arguments that they had had and Tucker was just glad that it was over. He had seen how strong Jessica was and he didn't want to see that strength first hand. He knew that she would never do anything to hurt him although he knew that people could do a lot of things that they wouldn't normally do when they were angry. Some years ago in Morgan a man had found his wife sleeping with another man so he chopped the manhood off the adulterer and then fed it to the pigs. This was an extreme case however and he still thought that he was safe with Jessica no matter how angry she got with him. He could at least depend on her for that.
Jessica was having to walk through woodland to get to the location of the first trial. The map that Tucker had indicated that it was at the source of the River Red. Tucker's compass was able to point them in the right direction. The two barely spoke unless it was Jessica asking if she was walking in the right direction.
One thing that did happen while Jessica was walking that a little bird landed on her nose. To her the bird no bigger than an insect but she did feel a little honoured that it had landed on her nose. It showed that the bird was not afraid of her unlike the many people that she had met over the years. It even let her pat it on the head with her index finger before it flew away so that it could find food.
It was only a short time later that Jessica came across something that seemed to be somewhat suspicious. She had arrived at the small streams that made its way to the River Red itself and there she saw what seemed to be a hole in the ground. From where she was it was too small for her to have a good look at it so she placed Tucker on the ground right next to it and she shrank herself to her minimum height.
It was obvious to the pair now that this hole in the ground seemed to lead down into what seemed to be a tunnel. There was a series of steps that could take a person down under the ground and from the moss growing on the stone steps both Jessica and Tucker could see that they had been there for some time.
"I guess this is the way to the first trial," said Tucker as he looked down. He couldn't see the bottom of staircase and there was a hint of fear overcoming his body as he looked down. He didn't know what was down there but it seemed to be in the place that the map had specifically pointed out.
"Maybe or it could be a dungeon," replied Jessica as she tried to look down but she had the same problem as Tucker. "My dad says that they're scattered all over Angleland. "I wonder how deep it is."
"Well there is one way to find out." Right next to Tucker was a rock roughly the size of a golf ball and he threw it down the staircase. The pair stood there in silence as they listened to the rock roll down the staircase and with each passing second it got quieter and quieter and when they heard it hit the bottom it was obvious to both of them that the staircase went down a very long way. "I guess that's our answer, now don't hit me for stating the obvious but I think its best that we have some kind of light before we go down there."
Jessica only nodded as Tucker picked up a long but sturdy stick while Jessica used her height to reach some dry leaves on a nearby tree. With a piece of string they were able to wrap the leaves into a ball and place it on top of the stick. Tucker then used two rocks that he had picked up from home and he was able to use them to set the leaves alit and create a torch so that the pair could see down the dark staircase.
Tucker was the first to head down the steps with Jessica directly behind him. He also had Juggernaut in his hand and with each step he walked he took great care just in case the neck step had part of it chipped off causing him to fall down. As they descended further and further down into the steps the sunlight of the surface faded away and they would have found themselves in darkness if not for the torch that Tucker was carrying.
The staircase seemed to be going down in a spiral manner and the ceiling above them was relatively low so Jessica had to be careful not to strike her head. This was one of the times that she wished that her minimal size was closer to being average height. She was thankful however just to be able to shrink to this size, if not for her dress she would be stuck at her full size and she wouldn't have been able to follow Tucker down here. She said that next time he faced danger that she wouldn't help him but she was still very concerned about her best friend and she still didn't want him to be harmed.
With every step the pair took they hoped that they would reach the bottom soon but the stairs seemed to go on and on with no end in sight. It was still too dark for them to see the bottom but from the walls that they walked passed they could see writing on there in a language which was completely alien to them. It seemed to be from some kind of dead language that had largely been forgotten by everyone in Angleland.
One thing that Jessica did do was lay on of her hands on Tucker's shoulder. This was so that they didn't lose each other and if by some accident that Tucker dropped the torch at least she would still know where he was. Both of them had never walked up or down stairs as long as these and they almost thought that they were never going to reach the bottom.
After several minutes Tucker reached what he soon realised was the bottom of the stairs. At first he wasn't sure but as he held his torch up high he could see that they were indeed at the bottom of the stairs. He was relieved to find that they were at the bottom and he needed a moment to catch his breath.
"If I have to walk up or down a step again in my entire life it'll be too soon," said Tucker as he began to catch his breath.
"Hey it wasn't all that bad," replied Jessica not showing too much fatigue. "You can't tell me that you're tired after that?"
"My legs aren't as long as yours, I can't walk as fast as you."
"Hey when it comes to stairs I took just as many steps as you. Face it Tucker you're not as fit as you like to think."
"A knight doesn't have to be fit to use a sword."
"But it certainly does help." She paused for a moment as she tried to take a look around but unfortunately the light from the torch wasn't very bright and she could barely see anything. "So what do we do now?"
"I guess we keep going until we find what we came for."
Tucker went to lead Jessica on but he noticed something on the wall. Hanging from the wall was an unlit torch. He didn't think that it would do much good but he still used his torch to light it up so that he and Jessica would have some more light. As he lit the unlit torch much to his surprise as it lit up several more torches down a long tunnel began to light up as well. The entire process only took a few seconds but when it was finished the entire passageway was lit up brightly.
The sudden lighting of so many torches had caught Tucker and Jessica completely by surprise and it was obviously to both of them that this was not normal. There was some kind of magic behind all of this, they were just thankfully however to have light leading the way for them.
"I guess I won't be needing this anymore," said Tucker as he dropped his own made on the ground. He still kept a hold of Juggernaut in case anything decided to try and jump out at him. In an area like this Jessica wouldn't be able to give him that much protection since she could just about stand to her fill height without her head hitting the ceiling. She couldn't grow any bigger here so her gigantism would be of no help.
"I think we're on the right path," replied Jessica as she looked down the passageway. "I don't think that torches magically alight like that in any old tunnel."
"Well there is only one way to find out my dear." He had a smile on his face at that moment in time. "An adventure awaits."
With that Tucker and Jessica began to walk down the passageway but they were careful with exactly where they were going. The passageway was likely to have some kind of booby trap and neither wanted to lose a foot or activate a spiked wall. They could see a couple of pieces of scrap metal on the ground that obviously belonged to someone who had ventured down here before them. They had no idea what could have happened to that said individual but they were certain that there was danger ahead of them.
"I can't believe that we're actually close to the first trial," said Jessica as she walked just behind Tucker. She was still somewhat angry at him for what he had said to her but her astonishment seemed to outweigh her anger.
"I can, I've been dreaming about something like this for years," replied Tucker with a smile still on his face. "This is only the first of three trials before we find Three Man's Treasure and become the richest people in Angleland. Do you know what you want to do with your share yet?"
"I didn't come for the treasure, I came to be with my friend and make sure that he didn't bite off more than he could chew." There was much truth in her words, she did want to use some of the treasure to maybe buy a place of her own along with a couple of other things but she was not interested in being extremely rich. She wanted to be with her friend and that was as much as she cared about.
"The more treasure for me. I'm going to buy myself some land and actually be called a Lord. To tell you the truth I still prefer to be called Sir Tucker Martel but being called a Lord is definitely nice. Wouldn't you want to be called Lady Jessica Snape?"
"Well I already am a lady, I don't have to have a title to be a lady."
"Suit yourself." Suddenly Tucker heard what sounded like rattling metal that caused him to stop dead where he was. He looked around to see if he could see where the sound was coming from but he could see nothing. The passageway before him was straight and there was no other passageways connected to it. "What was that?"
"What was what?" She had not heard anything and so there was no concern within her. She could see that Tucker was beginning to get a little worried and she knew that he had heard something.
"That!" He heard the sound again and this time he extremely tall friend heard it as well and she turned her head around to see if she could see anything from the way that they had come. "That's not just me going crazy is it?"
"No I heard something too." She heard the rattling sound again but this time it seemed to be louder than it had been before. "Whatever it is it seems to be closer." She wanted to grow and provide some form of protection but there was simply no room for her to grow and she had promised Tucker that she would not try and protect him from the next threat.
Before the eyes of both Jessica and Tucker they saw the pieces of metal seeming merging together and it was obvious to Tucker that the pieces of metal were in fact pieces of armour. They were helpless but to watch as the armour began to build itself and it even had its own sword and shield to go along with it.
The armour stood about six and a half feet tall and was built for a very large man. It made almost no sound and with the visor down it was impossible to see if there was a face behind it. The only thing that they could see were two glowing eyes coming through the visor and it was enough for both of them to begin to reconsider their choice in going on this quest. This was something that they had not been expecting and most likely they were in for the fight of their lives.
"What is that thing?" asked Jessica as she stood behind Tucker. She was still stronger than an average person but she still thought that she was useless in such a small space. It was one of the downfalls of her powers.
"I can only guess that it is some kind of guard," replied Tucker with a smile creeping onto his face. This was the excitement that he had been craving and this time he knew that Jessica wouldn't be able to help him. "Most likely it is part of the trial but this shouldn't be too much of a problem for me. Now step back fair maiden and watch as a true knight protects you from the forces of evil."
Jessica had no choice but to take a few steps back as Tucker approached the suit of armour. He still found it hard to believe that it seemed to move all by itself. This was something that he was going to put out of his mind for the time being so that he could deal with the task at hand. This was what he had left Morgan for, so that he could feel the excitement that he wasn't getting there.
The armour was the one to strike first but Tucker was able to use Juggernaut to block it before it came anywhere near hitting him. He made sure to move fast since he guessed that due to the size of the armour that it relied more on strength rather than speed. He went to jab it a couple of times while he was moving around but the armour seemed to use its shield each time to block the jab.
One blow came very close to striking Tucker and he was able to dodge out of the way just in the nick of time. If he had been a fraction of a second slower he would have been killed instantly. There was a slight gasp of shock from Jessica as she watched him fighting this enchanted armour by himself. She was hoping that he would win but she thought that there was a good chance that he would fall. It would break her heart to see her best friend killed but she still thought that she was powerless to help. Her heart was beating at a very fast rate and there was much uncertainty in her mind.
One thing that Tucker knew that he had to do was to remove the shield from the armour. As long as it had that in its hand it could just keep blocking his blows and eventually he would be too exhausted to continue. He would have thought that the armour would get tired too but he knew that there was no one inside the armour so fatigue wasn't going to be an issue for it at all.
"Come on Tucker you can do this," thought Tucker as he tried to use his superior speed to manoeuvre around the armour and strike. "So this is a magic armour that doesn't get tired and can seemingly block all of my attacks. It has to have some kind of weak spot, nothing is perfect so it has to have some kind of weakness."
His blows were repeatedly being fended off by the armour and he was beginning to get tried. He knew that the moment that he gave into fatigue was the moment that he was going to be killed. He didn't want his life to end here and especially in front of Jessica. He would have to win in almost any way that he thought would succeed but for the moment he could see no chinch in the armour.
One thing that Tucker did try was a fast attack that he had tried on dummies during his spare time. He went to attack low causing the armour to guard around its legs but with its shield down Tucker quickly moved his sword up and sliced off the head of the armour. The helmet fell to the ground and he thought that he might have won. In most cases a decapitation was enough to win in any fight. This was different however as the armour seemed to be still be moving as if nothing had happened. It went to slice Tucker and in his surprise he was only just able to get his guard up at the very last moment. He took a leap back so that he could create some distance between himself and the armour. The battle looked to be hopeless and he wasn't even sure that he could get anywhere near defeating this armour.
There was one thing that Jessica had noticed during the fight. A couple of times she had seen the back of the armour as it turned to face Tucker each time that he moved. She noticed something on its back that didn't seem to be normal. She saw that it had some kind of small gem on its back and even she knew that was not normal on the back on any armour. She knew that it would be interfering but this time she thought that Tucker wouldn't mind since she wouldn't be attacking it.
"Tucker there's a gem stone on its back!" shouted Jessica so that her friend could hear her. "Try and aim for that."
Tucker looked over at Jessica and instead of speaking he gave her a quick nod before he focused on the armour again. He had learned that during a fight that he couldn't allow himself to be distracted even for a moment since it would most likely be his last ever mistake. He had taken in Jessica's words and was going to use her advice the best that he could. He even found it unnerving that he was fighting a suit of armour with no head. It almost felt like he was fighting a ghost.
With a renewed goal Tucker tried everything that he could to try and move around the armour and strike the jewel on its back. This was difficult since he had not actually seen the jewel itself and getting around such a large suit of armour was extremely difficult. The fact that the armour was constantly attacking him didn't make the task any easier for him and he had to rely on his speed to get the task done.
An idea did pop into the head of Tucker. He thought that rather than trying to move around the armour while it was on guard he would try and do it after it unleashed a powerful attack. He knew that if the armour tried to use a powerful attack like a strong slash that he would be able to dodge out of the way and then move behind it within a handful of seconds. Then he would be able to attack the hopeful weak spot of the armour.
Jessica was very nervous as she watched the fight. Even though she had promised to stay out of it completely if she thought that Tucker was going to die she would do everything that she could to prevent his death. She wanted to respect his wishes but she would try and save him only as a last resort. She could see some sense in what he had said earlier but she still couldn't understand the whole male ego. It was something that she knew wasn't unique to Tucker but she couldn't understand why a man didn't want to be saved by a woman whenever they were in trouble. She had always been bigger and stronger than every man she met, ever since she was a young girl. She had also been protecting Tucker ever since they had become friends and he had never been ungrateful towards her for getting him out of a tough situation.
Rather than trying to attack the armour straight away Tucker held back in the hopes that the armour would unleash the powerful attack that he was hoping that it would. It was also giving him a little time to recover some of his energy and spot anything else that needed help. When he had been trained by Sir Thomas Parker the old knight had told him that he should always try and spot a weak point in an opponent. No opponent was invincible no matter how powerful he seemed.
The armour did try to attack him a couple of more times but they weren't the powerful attacks that Tucker was hoping for. He decided to give the armour a fake jab so that it would be coaxed into making the strong attack that he wanted. He quickly went to stab the armour but pulled back Juggernaut when it was close to striking the shield of the armour. This caused the armour to launch the powerful attack. It held its sword up high and went to unleash a powerful slash that Tucker was able to dodge around. With the energy that he had left he was able to dart around the armour and almost instantly he saw the gem that Jessica had pointed out. It looked to be a small sapphire like gem that would look to have some value to it but Tucker knew that it needed to be destroyed.
With only moments to react Tucker stabbed Juggernaut right into the gem and it took almost no effort to smash the gemstone into tiny pieces. The armour began to cry out an inhuman sound of pain as there was a bright blue glow coming out of its back. Almost instantly it dropped its sword and shield as it continued to cry out in pain. Both Jessica and Tucker took several steps away from it as it looked like it was about to explode.
Tucker was taking a few steps back towards Jessica and she could see that the armour was close to exploding as it continued to radiate the blue light and she had to think quickly. She thought about taking Tucker's hand and running but she thought that they wouldn't have that much time.
Instead Jessica began to grow as much as she could in such a confined space and she lay down right on top of Tucker. He had no idea what she was doing as she covered him completely with her growing body. She grew as much as she could but eventually the walls and the ceiling of tunnel compressed her growth and she had to stop herself. The whole process had only taken a couple of seconds.
No sooner had she grown as big as she could the armour seemingly exploded and Jessica closed her eyes. She thought that she was going to experience a huge amount of pain as she knew that the explosion was coming her way. She didn't even know if she was going to survive or not but as long as Tucker survived that was all that she cared about. She knew that it went against what she had agreed to do but she knew the severity of the situation and that her best friend could die.
The explosion of blue energy raced towards her at an almost impossible speed but before it could strike her a strange golden energy shield seemed to protect her and kept the explosion at bay. Jessica had her eyes closed at the time and didn't see the shield. The explosion only last for a few moments before subsiding and as soon as it was gone the energy shield that had protected her disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared.
With the explosion seemingly over Jessica slowly opened her eyes to see that she was still alive and miraculously unharmed. She could feel Tucker beneath her and she realised that he was probably struggling to breathe underneath her enormous body. Slowly she began to shrink herself and when she was small enough she stood on her knees so that Tucker could breathe again. He had heard the explosion and knew that she had put her body and possibly even her life on the line for him. He quickly got up to his feet and at Jessica's current position the two were almost the same height.
"W-what the hell just happened?" asked Tucker with some confusion. Everything had happened so quickly that he was almost dumbfounded.
"That thing just exploded after you struck its weak spot," replied Jessica still not standing to her full height. She wanted to seem like she was looking at him eye to eye for at least a little while. "I know that I promised to stay out of the way but I thought that explosion would hurt you, maybe even kill you."
Tucker wanted to be angry that Jessica had once again interfered when he was in danger but this time he saw that she had a valid reason. He did defeat the armour with only a minimal amount of help from her but even he didn't think that he would be able to survive an explosion like that. He was even surprised to see that Jessica was completely unharmed. He knew that she was very durable when she grew but even she wasn't invincible. This was something that was giving him reason for thought.
"Thank you Jessica," said Tucker with a smile on his face to show his best friend that he wasn't angry. "I owe you my life again." He gave her a little kiss on her cheek and this caused the very tall woman to blush. It also caused her to grow a few inches and she tried to hide how much she had enjoyed the kiss. "Now shall a good knight help his friend up to her feet?" He held out his hand as Jessica's much large hand gently grabbed it, her long fingers were able to encase almost his entire hand.
"You may good sir knight," replied Jessica playing along with him. This was something that they used to play along when they were younger. This brought a smile onto her face as she began to stand up to her full height.
Much to her surprise when she did stand up her head hit the ceiling of the tunnel. There was a fairly loud thud as her head struck the ceiling and she realised that the small growth spurt that she had was enough to make her too tall to stand up properly. She gave a somewhat high pitch ouch sound before she reduced her height by the few inches that she could to make herself an even eight feet tall again.