A few days later both Jessica and Sir Tucker entered the city of Featherstone after a very long walk. Both of them were more than happy to be in a city again, especially Jessica who was looking forward to being able to sleep on a bed rather than the ground. Her back was killing her and all she wanted to do was rest.
Featherstone was amongst one of the oldest cities of Angleland but its size was nothing to be impressed about. Most of the buildings had been constructed hundreds of years ago but the largest building in the city was the castle. It was larger than most castles in Angleland and had been the seat of the O'Hare family ever since the city was first founded. However the once numerous family had been reduced down to one. The last remaining member of the family was a young woman named Jennifer O'Hare who was now the lady of Featherstone and thus was the most powerful woman in the city. Despite her age she was very intelligent and more than capable of overseeing the city.
On more than one occasion numerous men had thought that she was unfit to rule since she was a woman but for those men she gave them a choice. They would either lose their tongue or their manhood. A surprising amount of these men chose to lose their penis rather than their tongue, Lady Jennifer was more than happy to fulfil their decision.
She was also known to be quite tough with criminals as they faced harsher sentences for their crimes in Featherstone in comparison to other places in Angleland but she wasn't completely heartless in that department.
Featherstone was also known for its mines that lay outside of the city which provided the kingdom with plenty of iron. Each of these mines were owned by Lady Jennifer and had brought her a considerable income since iron was a metal that was always needed in the Kingdom. She may not have been as wealthy of Lord Nostory but she still had a fair amount of gold to her name.
The first place that Jessica and Sir Tucker visited was a local inn so that they could rest and eat some much needed warm food. After they had exhausted their own food supply they had been eating berries and Sir Tucker had even been able to catch a rabbit which they soon cooked and ate.
Rather than buying enough to fill her completely Jessica decided to have a smaller meal which was still considered to be a full meal for a normal person. They didn't know how long their money would last and they would have to be careful with what they were spending. For the next few weeks they didn't know how they would earn more money. Sir Tucker still considered performing some bounty hunting since he had seen a few wanted posters since he had entered the city.
The inn itself was a small establishment and could only hold around a dozen people at a time. It was even named the Crimson Dwarf which seemed like an appropriate name but Jessica thought that if Brian had been there he would not have liked it. Its small size was also a problem for her as the ceiling was too low for her to stand up properly and she was afraid that if she stretched her arm that she would hit someone by accident. However things were a little better when she sat down, at least then she wouldn't have to worry about hitting her head on anything.
For a few moment Sir Tucker was at the bar ordering the food while Jessica sat down at the table and waited. He was going through what they both wanted to the innkeeper. He was writing it down but he could see the armour that Sir Tucker was wearing and the Juggernaut by his side. There was something that he would have to tell the young knight that might end up with him getting into trouble.
"Are you a knight?" asked the Innkeeper who was an old man who still had a full head of white hair and a large belly. "Or are you some adventurer who wants to try and live out the stories?"
"No I am a knight," replied Sir Tucker with some pride in his voice. "I am Sir Tucker Martel the Constant."
"The what?" He seemed to be very confused with why any knight would want to call himself something like that.
"Never mind." Sir Tucker seemed a little annoyed that the Innkeeper hadn't really taken him seriously. He still wouldn't discard the title purely because it was Jessica who had given it to him. "Why do you ask anyway?"
"I can tell from your accents that you're not from these parts, you're probably not aware of the fact that there is a law in this city. Any knight who enters has to present themselves to her ladyship. I advise you to have an audience with her before long. She hears things and word will eventually reach her. It is much better for you to go to her rather than her dogs." He was not talking about literal dogs but the men who made up Lady O'Hare's personal guard. Each one was a skilled swordsman and also completely loyal to her. They would gladly lay down their lives to protect her ladyship.
"Hmm interesting." He did consider that the innkeeper could be lying to him but he was willing to take the chance. If it were true then he would only be following the law and if it were false the worst thing that would happen was that he would be turned away. "Thanks for telling me."
"You're welcome, I'll have your food out before you know it."
Sir Tucker turned around and sat down at the table that Jessica was sitting down at. It was a low table and she was struggling to keep her knees underneath. Long legs were normally desired in a woman but they certainly had their downsides. It was just another reminder to her that she was living in a world that was too small for her. She did look forward to being able to buy larger furniture when they found the treasure. She was glad to see that Sir Tucker was back but she just wanted to be in a place that had more space for someone of her extreme stature.
"Hey Jessica I just heard something that we have to deal with," said Sir Tucker as he sat himself down on a seat. He did notice that the table was low but it wasn't enough to cause him that much discomfort. "Turns out there's a law here which means I have to present myself to the Lady of the city."
"Not another Lord." She gave a sigh as memories of Lord Nostory were still very much present in her mind. "Do we really have to go?"
"I do at least since I'm a knight but you can stay here if you want to. Hopefully I won't be that long."
"No thanks, I'm not staying here any longer than I need to be." She was tempted to just flip over the table so that she could have the leg room that she desperately wanted. "I swear I feel like I'm going to burst out of this place."
"Hopefully it won't have to come to that. Besides think about the halls where Lords and Ladies hold their meetings. High ceilings and normally plenty of room, in fact you could probably grow to your normal size and still have plenty of headroom."
"I seriously doubt that."
"Plus this isn't a lord that we're seeing. It's a lady and if I remember correctly it is Lady O'Hare who is the lady of the city."
"How do you know that?" There had been no mention of her as of yet and she just wondered how her friend could know such information.
"Well my family bought iron from this city and it was her signature that was on the paperwork. That is recently of course, before then it was her Lord Father but since his passing she is the one calling the shots."
"Have you heard anything about her?" She wanted to know if she was likely to meet a noble Lord like Lord Howlet or another wicked Lord like Lord Nostory.
"Not really, she only came to power fairly recently but I did hear that she lost her husband not so long ago so if we're in her presence we better not mention anything like that. The last thing we want is the wrath of a Lady."
Just as they had finished their conversation the food that they had ordered was placed down right in front of them. Before he started Sir Tucker helped Jessica cut up her food so it was easier for her to eat. Her broken arm was really annoying her and she felt that she was more of a liability for him rather than a help for him. She just wanted to recover quickly so that she could take the cast off.
After eating their food the pair washed it down with a large drink before they set off for the castle. They hadn't been told that was where Lady O'Hare but they knew that it was the most likely for her to be. As they went through the city they saw the citizens going about their daily business although a few of them did turn to look at Jessica. She was used to this by now so she paid it no mind.
Eventually they reached the castle doors and there they saw three heavily armoured men standing right outside of it. They seemed to be laughing and joking amongst one another, due to their armour their faces were obscured. Sir Tucker and Jessica couldn't see their faces and were a little nervous as they approached. One wrong move could lead them both into a lot of trouble.
As soon as the guards saw the pair their jokes completely faded away and they turned to them. Each placed a hand on their swords just in case things became violent as they saw that Sir Tucker was armed. They were amazed by Jessica but this was of no real importance to them.
"Halt," said one of the guards. He had figured that the pair were close enough. "State your business."
"We have been informed that there is a law in your lovely city that all knights have to present themselves to her ladyship. Of course I may have been misinformed and if that is the case my friend and I will take our leave."
"You have heard true but I didn't take you as a knight. Tell me who knighted you and the reason for it."
"I was knighted by Lord Tyrone of Indigon for competing in a tournament and showing great skill and chivalry. My name is Sir Tucker the Constant of Morgan. My friend beside me is Miss Jessica Snape who is my companion."
"Your words seem to have a ring of truth behind it." There was a pause for a moment as he began to think. "You may see her ladyship but your weapons will be confiscated and if her ladyship discovers that you have been untruthful the punishment for such a crime is not light."
"In that case I have nothing to worry about. Every word I told you is the truth and if you need to ask Lord Howlet himself I'm sure that he is more than happy to oblige." He smiled as he was confident that everything was in order.
"Very well sir."
Another of the guards opened the door and the third guard began to lead them inside. The door was smaller than normal and Jessica had to really duck down to get through. However on the other side she was more than happy to see high ceilings which allowed her to stand at her full height without fear of hitting her head on the ceiling. This was just one thing that she was happy about.
They were led down a long hallway where there were numerous doors that led into different rooms but these were simply ignored as they continued to be led. Eventually they came to two more guards who took away Juggernaut and Sir Tucker's shield. He was willing to give them up just to show that he meant no harm and he was assured that once his audience with Lady O'Hare was over they would be returned to him.
Eventually the pair reached a great hall which did look magnificent. It didn't seem to be as grand as the one that they had seen in Indigon but it was definitely a sight to behold nonetheless. The ceiling was well over thirty feet high and the walls were decorated with coats of arms and tapestries depicting various members of the O'Hare over the last several hundred years.
Near the far end of the hall was a chair that looked almost fit for a king and above it sat a sigil of a unicorn rearing on its hind legs on a green background. This was the sigil the O'Hare family and it commanded some respect from everyone. The chair was made out of pure oak and although it was hundreds of years old it still looked fairly new. A lot of time and effort had gone into maintaining it over the years.
Both Sir Tucker and Jessica remained by the door until another door on the fair side of the hall opened. A few guards walked inside first followed by a woman who wore a bright blue gown. She was a tall woman with long red hair and some freckles on her face. She had piercing green eyes and ruby red lips. She was one of the most beautiful women that Sir Tucker had ever seen and with grace she stepped towards the seat and sat herself down upon it. A few more guards had followed behind her as she had entered the hall and each of them took specific positions in the hall in order to properly protect their lady. As she was sitting in her seat she truly looked the part of a high born lady and she did look young. Many hoped that her looks would remain with her throughout her lifetime.
"Presenting Lady Jennifer of House O'Hare, the Lady of Featherstone and Matriarch to its citizens," shouted a man who had an impressive voice. His clothing was much brighter than the armour of the guards standing near him. "My Lady a knight from yonder has arrived to present himself to you."
"Step forward good knight," stated Lady O'Hare. Sir Tucker then began to walk towards her. Jessica remained where she was and she watched as he kept walking until he was around ten feet away from her.
"Greetings my Lady," replied Sir Tucker. He bowed to her and he had been practicing such a thing with Jessica. However if he did anything wrong this time rather than getting a friendly laugh he might lose something precious to him. "My name is Sir Tucker Martel the Constant and I am from the town of Morgan which lies some distance to the west of here. It is nowhere near as grand as your lovely city."
"I doubt that it would be good sir. Although I am not overly familiar with your home I do recognise the name. Some of my mined iron has worked its way to that place." He was surprised that she had even heard of Morgan. It wasn't a place which was famous for anything in particular.
"My family and I have most likely handled the iron. I am a fully trained blacksmith along with the rest of my family."
"A blacksmith who has become a knight?" She chuckled a little and he couldn't help if she was being nice or condescending. "Now that is something that would make a great folk tale." She looked behind Sir Tucker and she could see Jessica standing near the door. She could tell that she was tall but not immediately from where she was standing. "And I see that you have brought a friend along with you."
"Yes she is a very good friend of mine."
"Step forward girl." Jessica was a little dumbstruck for a moment she did slowly approach Sir Tucker and with each step she took Lady O'Hare could see just how tall she actually was. The high born lady looked up in amazement at her and she couldn't help but break a smile and her perfect white teeth could be seen. "My they certainly grow them tall where you're from. May I ask how tall are you?"
"When I left Morgan I was eight feet tall my lady," replied Jessica who remained respectful. "But I suspect that I might have grown a couple of inches since then." From the tone of her voice she sounded embarrassed about it. She didn't normally like to be asked how tall she was but she couldn't turn down the request of a high born.
"It wouldn't be surprising." She then stood up from her chair which was surprising for all of those attending. She stepped towards Jessica and she looked right up at her and began to chuckle. "Tell me your name my dear."
"My name is Miss Jessica Snape my lady." She wasn't sure whether she should bow slightly to show respect.
"Miss Snape, I am an inch shy of being six feet tall and I very rarely have to look up to another woman. But with you I feel like a disobedient child having to stand before a parent or a teacher." She found this to be very funny but Jessica could see that there was no malice behind her humour. She looked around her to see another guard who was standing some distance away. "Sir Edward."
"Yes my lady," replied the guard. He hadn't been expected to be called upon at any point during this audience.
"Step forward please." Without question Sir Edward did as he was told and stepped forward towards the trio. Sir Tucker could see that this guard was very tall, the armour that he was wearing also made him seem very muscular but he knew that it was most likely just the armour. He eventually came close to Jessica and Lady O'Hare raised her hand to indicate that she wanted him to stop. He was right next to Jessica who continued to tower above him considerably. Like Lady O'Hare before him he felt very small in comparison to her. "Please tell me how tall you are Sir Edward."
"I am six foot eight my lady." He was definitely the tallest man that was employed by Lady O'Hare but he didn't even come up to Jessica's shoulder. Lady O'Hare once again found it very humorous.
"I can see that you're not lying Miss Snape. You look to be around a foot and a half taller than my tallest knight. I can see this becoming another folk tale one day about the maiden that is taller than the tallest man in Angleland. That's certainly a tale that I would like to hear." She chuckled again before instructing Sir Edward to return to his position, she then walked back to her seat and sat down. "Now that I've had my fun I'd like to thank you both for coming to see me. In fact I've had a problem of sorts that requires the touch of a knight or two."
"What problem is that my Lady?" asked Sir Tucker. He hadn't expected to receive any assignments. He just hoped that it wasn't anything that he was uncomfortable doing. However he didn't think that he could refuse.
"One of my mines a little to the north of here has been overrun with wolves. The miners who work there refuse to go inside until they're dealt with. I'm losing a lot of gold every day that the mine is closed and that's gold that I prefer to have in my pocket. Go to the mine and deal with the problem and I promise you that you will be compensated for your efforts. You will be doing me and those miners a tremendous favour if you were able to rid the mine of the wolves."
"I will attempt what you have asked my lady." He wasn't sure exactly how many wolves he would be facing but he was confident that he would be successful.
"Very good Sir Tucker, I wish you all the luck in the world. Return to me once the deed is done" Sir Tucker bowed to her and so did Jessica. The pair were just about to leave but they were caught by a nasty surprise. "Miss Snape I didn't give you leave." Quickly both of them turned around and Sir Tucker's heartbeat quickened as he was unsure just what was happening. "Miss Snape I would like you to remain here while your friend is performing this little task for me."
"But my lady, my friend needs me," replied Jessica who tried to sound as respectful as possible.
"I doubt that very much." She smiled again although Sir Tucker and Jessica didn't know whether they should be worried or not. "Your friend looks to be a very capable man and besides a mine full of wolves is no place for a maiden no matter how short or tall they may be."
"If that is your wish then so shall it be." She did bow a little to Lady O'Hare as a sign of respect. She couldn't say no to her and she felt that there wasn't much choice in the matter. Sir Tucker looked up to her and nodded at her, whether this would be a mistake was something that only time would tell.
"Splendid and just so the good sir is not alone I'll send one of my own knights to accompany him. Sir Robert!" One particular knight stepped forward. He sounded quite old and he was smaller than Sir Tucker. "Would you be so kind to accompany Sir Tucker on his task?"
"It would be an honour my lady," replied Sir Robert. Sir Tucker couldn't see what he looked like underneath the armour but just from his voice he could tell that he was old and when he bowed to Lady O'Hare he was very slow and it seemed like it had taken a lot of effort out of him.
"Very good and besides Miss Snape you fascinate me. I can more or less guarantee that there isn't another maiden in Angleland like you. You shouldn't be alone anyway and it gives me a chance to interact with another maiden. The gods have only placed men in my courts and there are some things that their ears aren't quite tuned to."
"As you wish my Lady."
"Good now Sir Robert and Sir Tucker. Return to me once you have made sure that the problem has been dealt with. I assure you that upon your return you will both be greatly rewarded."
Both Sir Tucker and Sir Robert bowed to Lady O'Hare and made their way out. Sir Tucker was reluctant to leave Jessica there but if he tried to take her by force it would only end in his death and likely Jessica's as well. All he could do for the time being was to trust Lady O'Hare's word. The last experience he had with a Lord had gone very well and he hoped that this would be the same as well.
Jessica looked as Sir Tucker walked out of the hall. She didn't see some servants place a stool right next to Lady O'Hare's chair. It was a small stool that was probably stronger than it looked. Lady O'Hare instructed Jessica to sit beside her and reluctantly the very tall girl did as she was told. She looked at the stool and carefully sat down upon it, she could hear it creaking very loudly as it bore her weight however she was afraid that it would buckle at any moment.
Even sitting down on her stool Jessica seemed like a giant and if anything Lady O'Hare saw this as being very humorous. She had always been used to being the tall one, especially around other women but when it came to Jessica she felt very small. It was a feeling that she hadn't experienced for many years. She also liked the fact that Jessica had been respectful towards her which was something that she sometimes found hard in people that lords and ladies considered to be peasants.
"Are you well Miss Snape?" asked Lady O'Hare. From the tone of her voice it seemed like she was genuine with her question.
"I am thank you my lady," replied Jessica. She did feel a little hungry despite the fact that she had eaten recently.
"If there is anything you need refreshment wise I can have one of my servants fetch it for you."
"Well I am a little hungry my lady." There was a small amount of embarrassment in her words.
"You don't need to worry about being modest. When you're hungry the only thing you should do is eat." Quickly she signalled one of her servants over to her. He was a young man who didn't look any older than sixteen. Lady O'Hare instructed him to bring her some food for both herself and Jessica. Quickly the man went away to go and do what his Lady had just commanded.
Before any food could be brought to them suddenly two guards came in and they dragged a man along with them. This man had worn clothes that indicated to both of the women that he was only a peasant. He was very slim and it definitely looked like he hadn't bathed for some time. His sudden appearance had caught Jessica by surprise but she didn't say a word as things progressed.
"My lady," said one of the Guards. His voice was strong and he looked to have a big build underneath his armour. "This man has been caught stealing and he has been brought here for your judgement."
"Very well good sir," replied Lady O'Hare. Quickly she turned to Jessica and gave her a smile. "You're lucky, you're about to see how justice works in my city." She then looked over to the guards and she indicated that she wanted the man to be brought forward. The guards responded by picking him up and bringing him closer to her so that she could get a real look of him. She didn't recognise him as she didn't expect that she would. "I don't recognise you, that might work in your favour."
Jessica remained where she sat and she really didn't know what to do in this situation. She wanted more than anything to go with Sir Tucker and make sure that he was alright but unfortunately she couldn't. He was on his own but she thought that he was capable of looking out for himself. He had proved that to her but it didn't mean that she wouldn't worry about him.
However she still wasn't sure whether she should be worried about Lady O'Hare. So far she had seemed nice but Jessica knew that it could change in an instant. Physically Lady O'Hare was nowhere near as powerful as Jessica but politically they were worlds apart. She still didn't know whether Lady O'Hare was being nice to her or if she was keeping her there as some kind of game. For now all she could do was sit and watch as Lady O'Hare judged this man for the crime that he had committed. She thought that Sir Tucker was able to deal with a few wolves.