Sir Tucker and Kermit were still trying to find the right path once again. They had gotten themselves turned around upon escaping from the clan but there was one thing that they did have on their side. The world around them was getting brighter with every passing minute as dawn was fast approaching. The sunlight would be very helpful towards their efforts and at least then they wouldn't have to worry about people trying to get the jump on them. It was always a possibility but much less likely than night.
Both men were incredibly tired after what they had been through and both would have loved nothing more than to just lie down on the ground and fall asleep right where they stood. It still wasn't safe however and both men preferred to keep moving even though they didn't know whether they were going in the right direction or not.
Eventually both men had to give into fatigue as they sat down on a fallen tree to get some much needed rest. Sir Tucker didn't think that he had ever been this tired before but it was certainly the longest he had gone without any real sleep. His head still hurt after being knocked out twice but other than that he was still in good health. Kermit on the other hand was having a more difficult time. He was not as physically fit as Sir Tucker and it seemed that his age was beginning to get the better of him.
"My bones are aching," said Kermit after a few moments of sitting down. Taking the weight off of his feet was pure bliss for him. "I don't think I'll be able to trek like this for too much longer."
"You've done well this night," replied Sir Tucker. He felt that a small compliment might make Kermit feel a little better about everything that had happened. "But until you're back home I wouldn't call this trip done." The area around them was much brighter than it had been but the sun had yet to rise. "Now that it's brighter do you recognise anything around here?"
"No it all just looks like the same forest." He was disappointed in himself as he thought that all he was doing was slowing them down. "I wish that I could be more helpful but the truth is I have no idea where we are."
"Well one way that we can figure out our direction is the sun. When it finally rises we'll know that that direction is east. It might not be much but it'll be a start nonetheless." He didn't think that it would be much help but it was still better than being completely in the dark.
"Maybe we could get some kind of high elevation so that I can possibly see the right direction." Sir Tucker thought that it was funny since Jessica could have easily solved this problem for them but she wasn't here so it was up to him.
"That is an idea but the question would be where? A very tall tree is an obvious answer but it would have to be you who climbed it. I have no idea what I'm looking for and if you pardon my bluntness you're in no condition to be climbing any trees."
"I fear that you're right in that regard. These bones aren't quite what they used to be." In his youth he would climb all day long but those days were long behind him. "Did you have any other suggestions?"
"Well we could use a hill of some kind. Just as long as it's tall enough for us to see for several miles."
"You mean like that one over there?" He pointed towards a hill that was a short distance away from them and it looked to be ideal for their plan.
"Yes that one will do." He rubbed his hands in excitement. "Shall we get going or do you want to rest a little longer?"
"We'll rest, after everything that we've been through a nice rest will give us the energy we need to scale that hill. To tell you the truth I could fall asleep right now if I could find a comfortable place to lay my head."
"Yeah me too." He could remember the nights when he and Jessica would share a bed and he would feel her warm arms embracing him and hugging him during her sleep. From time to time he would look up to her face and see that she was smiling. He hadn't brought it up to her yet but it was just something that he enjoyed.
"But to tell you the truth I can't wait to lay down with the wife again. That is unless she's decided to swap me for a younger model." He began to laugh as this had only been a joke on his part. He knew that his wife loved him no matter what. "And hopefully after all this is done you can see your lady friend as well."
"Yeah that would be nice, although we do have a lot to talk about and I don't really know what'll happen in the end."
"I think I know, you'll iron out whatever's been bothering the both of you and then you'll move passed it."
"I hope so, I really do." He really didn't know what was going to happen between himself and Jessica when they next met. He did hope that Kermit was right but between then and now anything could happen.
The two men rested for a short while so that they could recover enough of their energy to make it up to the hill. Both could have fallen asleep but with unknown dangers around them neither of them would risk it.
Eventually both men got up from their log and made their way towards the hill. There were no trees growing on the side of the hill but there was a single tree located right at the top. A dirty mind could imagine what the hill somewhat looked like but the thought hadn't crossed the minds of the two men as they prepared for the climb.
Carefully with each step they began to make it up to the hill but they had to be cautious. If either man fell they could receive a serious injury or worse. Kermit was especially at risk due to his advanced age. If he did receive an injury that prevented him from walking Sir Tucker didn't think that he would have the strength to carry him.
As they made the climb Sir Tucker remained behind Kermit so that he could catch him if he accidentally fell down to the ground. This safety net so to speak was great for Kermit who felt a lot safer knowing that Sir Tucker was there to help him. Once or twice the old man did began to fall back but with Sir Tucker there to keep him balanced Kermit didn't fall but instead continued his way up higher and higher.
After a few minutes the two eventually reached the top of the hill and the view that they could see was simply spectacular. For Kermit he had rarely seen such a view where he could see for miles upon miles in every direction. For Sir Tucker he had seen views like this plenty of times before when he sat on Jessica's shoulder. However this time he didn't have any of her hair wrapped around him for his own protection.
"Isn't this incredible?" asked Kermit. He looked around in amazement. "I only wish there was a way that I could immortalise what I'm seeing right now."
"If all wishes came true then there would be no point in living," replied Sir Tucker. He was anxious to get going in the right direction once again. "Now do you see anything that looks familiar from up here?"
"Let me take a look." He began to look around in every direction. Each time he stared in amazement at the view and he still couldn't believe what he was seeing. However he did know what was important as he tried to find anything that looked remotely familiar to him. This was a little odd for him since he would never have seen that particular landmark from this vantage point.
After roughly a minute of looking around Kermit saw what seemed to be a building a few miles away. It wasn't his home but definitely something that he recognised, it was taller than most of the trees and it was a marble white. A look of relief appeared on his face as he realised what the building was.
"Hey Sir Tucker," said Kermit with some glee in his voice. "I think I just found it." He almost couldn't contain his excitement as he had actually found something very familiar to him.
"Great what is it?"
"I see a temple just over there." He pointed towards the temple and when Sir Tucker looked towards it he could clearly see it. "That's not too far from where I live, I can't believe it but we're on the right track."
"Ok now we're getting somewhere, we'll travel there and then we'll make our way to your home from there."
For both men they had reason to be happy as their longer than expected journey was actually close to coming to an end. They both carefully made their way down the hill and they seemed to have an easier time going down it rather than getting up. It only took them a few seconds to get down the hill and they made their way towards the temple. It was still around a mile or two from where they had been but it was certainly a positive start.
The next phase of their journey was uneventful as they made their way towards the temple. It took them around half an hour to get there and they were more than happy to see a place where they knew that they were safe.
From up close Sir Tucker saw that the temple was larger than he had expected. The sun shone on the white marble and it only elevated the beauty of it. There was no doubt that whoever had built this temple had taken great care and although it was old it still looked like it had just been built.
At first Sir Tucker wanted to move on so that he could return Kermit to his home but the older man didn't want to leave yet. He thought that their success had been due to the gods favouring them and leaving a temple without praying to them would be a sign of disrespect. Sir Tucker had no choice but to agree as he didn't wish for the gods to turn a blind eye to him.
The two men stepped into the temple and what Sir Tucker saw did surprise him. If he had thought that the outside was beautiful it was nothing in comparison to the inside. The coloured windows of the temple made the sun shine a wide variety of colours but this was only the tip of the iceberg. Gold like chandeliers were attached to the ceiling and there were great rows of benches for people to sit down upon.
All around the room there were statues of the various gods in the religion of Angleland. There were so many that some struggled to remember them all but the priest who resided at the temple knew the names of each god and goddess. They were assisted by others who called themselves the Chosen Ones. These people were not those who thought that they had great destinies but rather had devoted their lives to the faith and thus had been chosen to be given responsibilities that many people could not handle.
Chosen Ones were permitted to be married but only to other Chosen Ones as they would not hinder them in their duties. The Priest who called the temple their home were the only ones who were not allowed to marry. They would remain at their temples until the day that they died unless something of religious importance took them elsewhere.
Kermit went to pray at a particular statue while Sir Tucker began to look around at the other statues. He eventually came to one that seemed to be familiar to him, it was a marble statue of a woman but there was something in her face that made him feel like he had seen her before. It was not from another statue but rather that he had seen her in real life. He couldn't put his finger on it.
He stared at it for several moments before he felt a tap on his shoulder. He didn't respond at first but then he felt someone place their hand on his shoulder. He didn't have time to turn around before he heard someone whispering in his ear.
"Yeah she's pretty but you have to admit that I'm prettier," said a hauntingly familiar voice. Sir Tucker quickly turned around and he saw Gwen standing right behind him. She had increased her height to the point where she was a few inches taller than him. He had no idea that she had been with him the entire time. "Hi handsome."
"You?" replied Sir Tucker with much confusion in his voice. "What do you want with me now?" He wanted to be angry but he knew that if he showed her any kind of aggression she would kill him.
"Well who did you expect?" She giggled and it almost made her seem like she was just any other woman. She seemed to have ignored his question and only responded to his first statement. "I've gotta say that now that you're a knight it definitely makes you a little more respectable."
"You almost ruined the relationship that I had with Jessica." Despite the anger that he felt he couldn't bring it to the surface. He just saw her standing over him and he couldn't help but feel nervous. Where he knew that Jessica would never hurt him when it came to Gwen she would kill him and not even give it a second thought.
"Who?" She paused for a moment. "Oh yeah that mortal who is trying to do her best impression of me. What about her?"
"Jessica and I were starting to make our relationship more than just friends and you decided to come along and ruin that. You made me have sex with you so that you would help clear Jessica's name."
"Oh so I did." She giggled again as if what had happened hadn't really been that big of a deal. "It's hard to remember every encounter I have with mortals. I've met so many over the years it's easy to lose track."
"It was your fault that we broke up. I was incredibly lucky that she still wanted to be friends but it could have gone a lot worse."
"And where is your so called friend now? If memory serves you and her had a little falling out and for that you can't blame me. Nor can you blame me for her finding out about our little bit of fun together. I wasn't the one who told her about it, to tell you the truth if I was in her shoes I probably would have crushed you where you stood."
"I expect that she was tempted." He couldn't help but see some truth in her words where it hadn't been Gwen who told Jessica. It had been him and although it caused him and Jessica much hassle he still felt that he had done the best thing. "All you've brought to me is misery and fear."
"You call that misery?" She laughed again but this time it was more of a mocking laugh. "Believe me mortal you don't know what true misery is. If you've seen the things I've seen then you would go back on those words."
"Why are you even here?" He knew that he wouldn't get any answers out of her and to prevent him from losing his temper he decided to start another line of questioning that might get some answers.
"Well since we're in a temple I thought I'd check out my statue. I've got to admit that whoever sculpted me did do a half decent job but there are a few mistakes. Plus I just wanted to talk to you. Maybe we can find a quiet spot so that we can have a little fun together." She licked her lips with what seemed to be an abnormally small tongue.
"No, you're unbelievable." He was beginning to become angry again and he was beginning to lose control of her anger.
"Oh shame, I knew it was a long shot and although I could force you to do whatever I want to tell you the truth I've kinda taken a liking to you." She shrank herself so that she was a head shorter than Sir Tucker. "I've seen mortals do many things over the years but nothing quite like you. Even someone of my level has to have a shred of respect for that." Sir Tucker didn't know if she was being genuine or if she was just telling another of her lies. Either way he was cautious.
"Did your respect stop you from ruining my life?"
"Oh come on you still can't be upset over that. You can't really blame me for that, do you know how many lives the gods have ruined over their time? Some of them deserved it there's no doubt about it but a few of them I think was just for fun. I don't know how those assholes think."
"That still doesn't excuse what you did."
Before he could speak further he saw one of the Chosen Ones approach them and she hadn't seen Gwen changing size. She thought that they were just having some lover's dispute and that Gwen had merely spoken blasphemy. She was robed from head to toe in a pristine white robe. Only her face was uncovered and she looked to be well beyond seventy. However her face did seem welcoming to Sir Tucker although Gwen was indifferent to her, she slowly approached them.
"You mustn't speak such things in the house of the gods," said the Chosen One. "Their ways may be more than we can understand but we must pay them our respects nonetheless." She then made a hand gesture which was to respect the gods.
"Oh I understand their ways," replied Gwen with a hint of annoyance in her voice. "In fact that I was just admiring the statue of myself here. I must admit that the nose is a little off but other than that the stonemason got it right."
"Declaring yourself as a goddess is a horrific crime." She almost couldn't believe what she was hearing. She had seen a couple of heretics every now and again but no one who actually declared themselves a god. "Rescind those words or else the gods will see fit to punish your misdeed."
"You mortals are so funny." She began to grow in size and Sir Tucker took a few steps away from her. The Chosen One looked up in disbelief as Gwen grew up to ten feet in height and although she considered growing larger she decided not to. The woman before her was someone who had dedicated their lives to the gods and in a small way to her as well. "I am Gwen Mistress Of Size, the demi-goddess who has come down to your mortal realm." She also did consider growing until she burst out of the building out of the temple but she knew how the other gods would react. She might have been very powerful but in comparison to them she was nothing more than a table knife trying to cut down a mighty redwood tree. "You may bow and beg my forgiveness."
The Chosen One was completely awestruck with what she saw. She dropped down to her knees and began to beg Gwen for her forgiveness. The Chosen One couldn't believe that she was actually face to face with an actual goddess. But her current outcry seemed to attract the attentions of others around them. Even Kermit could see what was taking place and he too was awestruck.
Gwen seemed to love the attention that she was getting from the people. This was one of the reasons why she loved her status. People would bow to her once they realised just who she was, even the greatest kings of Angleland bowed to the gods. Although she wasn't a full goddess she was still the closest thing that these people would see one considering how the actual gods never travelled to the mortal realm.
Sir Tucker didn't know what to do in this situation. He would have liked to have slipped away but he could see that Kermit was amongst the people who were bowing to Gwen. He even considered bowing himself since if he didn't she would take this as an offence and harm him. This time he wouldn't have Jessica there to try and stop her but even if she were here her powers were child's play in comparison to Gwen. Once again he would have to rely on his brains rather than brawn.
Gwen turned to Sir Tucker and saw that he wasn't bowing. Rather than taking offense to it she thought that it was funny that he didn't do it. She completely took her focus on the people bowing to her and instead looked at Sir Tucker. She was now having to look down at him and she couldn't help but laugh at him. She could see just how nervous he was and she even thought that it would be funny to use this against him.
"You don't seem to be bowing like the others," said Gwen as she took a step towards him. He did consider placing his hand on Juggernaut but it would be completely futile so he just stood there. "I can say that you're either the bravest mortal that I've ever met or the stupidest."
"I am neither," replied Sir Tucker as he tried to think of a way that he could resolve the situation without things escalating out of control. "I am merely just a mortal who stands in awe of you. Every time I see you I am taken aback by not only the power that you possess but of your beauty as well."
"Oh please stop." Rather than this being a command it was more like she was absorbing the compliments and it as just inflating her ego.
"We mortals are not fit to be in your presence. You are so far beyond us that we cannot comprehend the majesty that is you." He could see Gwen's ego being inflated even more with every syllable that he spoke.
However Gwen wasn't that stupid. She could see clearly what he was doing but rather than calling him out on it she instead went to play along with it. She thought that it would be more fun that way.
"Ok good sir knight maybe if you are in such awe of me right now why don't you come here and kiss me?" asked Gwen knowing what had happened the last time they had any kind of intimacy. She saw the colour fade from Sir Tucker's face and this brought her some amount of joy.
"I cannot, my lips are not worthy of your tender skin." He tried to play it off as something that she would want to hear but instead he saw her kneel down to his level. She could have very easily shrunk herself but she wanted to remain the bigger one. "It would be much below your notice."
"Well good sir knight I've been watching you for some time and I know that you're worthy. Besides you have my notice now."
Sir Tucker was in an uncomfortable position. He knew that he couldn't refuse her but Jessica did flash into his head. He knew that this time Gwen only demanded a kiss but he knew that she could easily change her mind and make him do something that was more extreme.
"But I..." Sir Tucker also knew that if he refused she could take her anger out on the innocent people around them.
"Oh there is no way of getting out of this one. Just a little kiss will do and in return everyone here will receive my blessings. You will be a hero once again in their eyes and tell me what do you have to lose?"
"The woman I love most in the world."
"Who just happens to not be here." She smiled down at him. "Besides one little kiss can't hurt and what she doesn't know can't hurt her."
Sir Tucker began to think about the situation. If he did kiss Gwen he would be going back on Jessica to a certain degree. However this was merely a kiss rather than having full intercourse. Also right now Sir Tucker and Jessica were not a couple and it wasn't uncommon for a married man to kiss another woman if there was no kind of love and passion behind it. He was between a rock and a hard place since if he didn't kiss her there was no telling just what she would do.
Sir Tucker watched as Gwen lowered her head to his level and all he did was give a sigh and give her a slight kiss on the cheek. He felt that her skin and flesh were very soft and had some warmth to it. However there was also some coldness that he could also feel which made him feel uneasy.
Gwen lifted her head back up as soon as he was done and she stood back up to her full height. The others around them were still in awe and many couldn't believe that a mortal had been allowed to kiss a goddess. It had been told that if a mortal touched a god they would have an influx of enlightenment which would be too much for a mortal mind to cope with. They would end up as nothing more than vegetables afterwards. Gwen was only a demi-goddess rather than a full-fledged god and seemed to be the only reason why Sir Tucker wasn't a gibbering wreck.
"See now that wasn't too hard now was it?" asked Gwen with a smile on her face. She took more satisfaction out of this than she had expected.
"Are you satisfied now?" replied Sir Tucker who still wasn't happy with what he had done. The only comfort that he took was the fact that it was only a small kiss rather than sexual intercourse.
"Indeed I am." She giggled like a school girl who had just learned a juicy secret about a friend. "You are certainly brave sir knight and hopefully we'll see each other again pretty soon." She turned to the people who were already bowing down to her. They looked up at her as she smiled down to them. "And for everyone present thanks to the actions of this brave knight each of you have received my blessings. May they bring you fortune in the near future."
Gwen then clapped her hands creating a blinding flash of light. In the instant of the light she was able to shrink herself to microscopic size and once again attach herself to the body of Sir Tucker without him even realising it. To everyone else it looked as if she had somehow teleported away. Sir Tucker hoped that it would be the last that he ever saw of her but he doubted it very much.
Also the truth of Gwen's blessings were nothing more than her words. Since she wasn't a full goddess so she couldn't give anyone a blessing that would make the slightest hint of difference. She knew this and had done it anyway just for another reason to feel superior to the mortals around them.
When Gwen had disappeared many of the people who had been bowing took a moment or two to get back up. Kermit in particular had a couple of problems and so did some of the older Chosen Ones. Many of them felt that their life was complete now that they had a real goddess in their presence. Sir Tucker was the only one who truly knew that they were lucky that she was in a good mood.
Many of the people began to make their way to Sir Tucker since he had been the one who had kissed Gwen. In their eyes he was the most blessed out of them all and there would likely be stories of this day that would be told for more than a thousand years. However the only person Sir Tucker was concerned about was Kermit who was also walking towards him. Sir Tucker made the rest of the distance and grabbed him by the arm. Before any of the people could ask him anything he pulled Kermit outside so that they could continue on with their journey.
Kermit was asking Sir Tucker a lot of questions which he didn't want to answer. The only answer Sir Tucker wanted from Kermit was which direction they were supposed to be heading. Kermit did point it out and without wasting anymore time he and Sir Tucker walked in that direction. Thankfully there was a path which would help them considerably, for Sir Tucker all he wanted to do was return Kermit home, receive his payment and then go back to Jessica and try and iron out their problems. He could only hope that he was successful in his attempts.