Jessica felt a little embarrassed about hitting her head on the ceiling. It wasn't the first time that it had happened and most likely it wouldn't be the last. What had made her embarrassed was that Tucker kissing her had made her grow those extra few inches to make herself too tall for the tunnel. She knew that she would grow when she was angry but it also seemed that she also grew when she was getting the affections of someone that she cared about. She was still blushing from the kiss and she tried to put it down to just being embarrassed.
One thing that neither Jessica nor Tucker knew about was how she was able to survive the explosion without a single scratch on her. When the explosion had taken place she had her eyes closed at the time and had failed to see the energy shield protect her from harm. It was likely that without that field she would not have survived the explosion.
One thing that Tucker did do was walk towards where the armour had been but now all that was left was a few shards of metal, a sword and the shield that it had been using. Since the explosion had been energy based rather than fire there were no scorch marks at all. This did surprise him somewhat but it also meant that the shield was perfectly intact. There were a few marks on it from where he had struck it during the battle but other than that it was in perfect working order.
As soon as he picked up the shield he noticed that it seemed to be both light and strong. He had heard of a metal like this but it was so rare that he nor his family of blacksmiths had never been able to use any. The shield was easily worth its weight in gold so Tucker strapped it to his back. The shield itself had a ram's head painted on the front and he wasn't sure if it was just a simple design or a house emblem.
At the same time Tucker took out the map to Three Man's treasure and he was expecting it to be updated so that they would know where to go next. He thought that the armour had been the trial that both he and Jessica had come down for. He unrolled the map and expected to see an update but instead he saw that nothing about it had changed. He stared at it for a few moments waiting for the update to happen but there was still nothing. He was confused and began to look on the front and the back expecting to see something different. Unfortunately there was still no change.
"Nothing's different," said Tucker as he desperately looked at the map. "There's nothing different, we completed the first trial, the map should have updated itself and yet it looks exactly the same."
"Let me take a look," replied Jessica as she stood over him. She was easily tall enough to see over his head and down at the map that he was holding. She could also see that there had been no change whatsoever and she wasn't sure exactly what would be happening now. "Yeah it does look the same, I guess either that walking pile of scrap metal wasn't the first trial or you've been conned out of your hard earned gold."
"That has to be it, that armour wasn't the trial." A huge smile appeared on his face as he thought that was the only explanation. He had ignored Jessica when she said that he could have been conned. His mind was too focused on the fact that she said that the armour wasn't the first trial. "I thought it was too easy, if the trials were this easy the treasure would have been found years ago."
"It didn't look easy and if I hadn't of shielded you, you could have died." She crossed her arms as he turned around to look up at her.
"Don't you get it my very tall friend, the first trial has to be further on. The map has led us true so far and as soon as we complete the trial we will find out where the next one is. We'll be up to our eyeballs in treasure in no time."
Jessica wanted to say something to try and make him see some sense but she knew that when he was like this that almost nothing could stop him. She just gave him a smile and placed her hands on his shoulders.
"Ok Tucker just calm yourself down and keep going," said Jessica with the smile on her face still evident. "We're not going to be finding anymore treasure if we stand around here and get overexcited."
"Sure thing Jessie," replied Tucker as he took a deep breath so that he could calm himself. "Would you like me to hold your hand as we walk?" He was merely trying to be a gentleman and was also having a little fun with his best friend.
"That won't be necessary little man, I should be alright walking by myself."
"Your loss, when I'm the richest man in Angleland the women will be flocking to me from every corner of the land. From North Spike to South Spike, from Port Phillip to Dole Harbour and you will be the attraction of every man."
"I don't think so somehow, I think many men are turned off by a woman who's taller than they are and can become big enough to make them look like a bug."
"I wouldn't mind that, just remember it's not what's on the outside but what's on the inside that counts. That's what my mom always used to say to me."
"And she sounds like a very wise woman." She gave him another smile as she realised just how much Tucker didn't mind her size. She thought that he might be a little afraid of her as a giantess but she could see that it never bothered him at all. She saw that he was a man who didn't fear her in anyway.
Before they delayed any further the pair continued to walk down the tunnel and they expected to find something soon that would be the first trial. The shield that Tucker was wearing was a little strange for him to carry. He had never carried a shield that was this size and yet still felt so light. He thought that even if this quest led to naught that he could at least sell this shield and probably live off that. He thought that he would give Jessica a portion of the sale since she had been sticking by him for all of this time. He didn't know many women who would be able to put up with him and all the craziness he seemed to attract to him. His dreams of adventures had not won him many friends in his childhood but Jessica was always there for him no matter what.
The torches down the tunnel were still alit and they found it strange how all the torches had come on all of a sudden when Tucker had lit up a single one. It was doubtless to both individuals that there was magic involved in this tunnel. The armour that Tucker had battled was the icing on the cake and they were beginning to wonder what other surprises would be coming their way in the near future.
Their surprise came when after walking for several minutes they came to what seemed to be heavy stone door. Each door looked to wear several tons and it looked to be impossible to open. With his ego Tucker decided to try and open the doors himself but as he pushed he discovered not so much to his surprise that they wouldn't budge an inch. He pushed them for several seconds but nothing happened and he realised that he efforts weren't getting him anywhere.
The doors themselves were beautifully decorated with stone carvings of woodland animals and even a fish. Whoever had carved these doors had been done so beautifully that it was hard to believe that human hands could construct such a work of beauty. It had no signs of wear and it looked as if they had only been carved yesterday.
Jessica decided to try herself and she pushed against the doors much like Tucker had but once again she wasn't having much luck. Even at her smallest size she was stronger than him and yet the doors still refused to open. She even decided to lie down on the ground and place her feet on either door. She made sure that Tucker was safely out of the way as she began to increase her size so that the pressure of her growing body would push the doors open. At first there was nothing as she grew to twenty feet and her head was moving further from the door but her feet stayed in the same place. They were lengthening and expanding as was expect and yet the door still refused to budge.
Although Jessica was lying down her growing body was beginning to get close to the ceiling and she was widening as well. She tried not grow until the torches on the wall began to burn her dress. If she lost it down here she would instantly grow to her full size and then she would be in real trouble.
The combination of Jessica's strength and the force of her growing body didn't seem to cause the doors to move an inch. She had never come across anything like this, she had never known her strength fail her. Even with the supposed weight of the door she thought that she would have been able to move it even a little but the doors might as well have been a light breeze rather than a growing giantess trying to open the door.
Eventually when Jessica was roughly sixty feet she admitted defeat and began to shrink herself. She had been running out of room and she thought that even if she were full size that she wouldn't have been able to open the doors using her strength. Tucker had his back to one of the walls so that he wasn't accidentally crushed by his best friend but as soon as she was her minimum size he helped her back to her feet.
Both of their efforts had failed and it seemed that their quest had come to an abrupt end. There had to be a way for them to open the doors but judging from the area around the door there was no indication about how they were going to do that. Tucker was the one who was most desperate in his attempts to find some kind of clue. He was on his hands and knees and rubbing the floor trying to find something that would open the doors. Jessica just looked at him for a few minutes before squatting down and placing her hand on his shoulder At first he didn't seem to notice that she had done anything but as she kept her hand there he slowly looked towards her.
"Tucker please your embarrassing yourself now," said Jessica with a somewhat stern voice. She wasn't trying to be mean to him but she wanted him to have reality slap him in the face. "Rubbing your hands on the ground isn't helping anyone."
"But there must be something here," replied Tucker with some anxiety in his voice. "Something that will open these bloody doors. We can't have come all this way and fail because some fucking door refuses to open."
"Tucker you're thinking too small, no one designs a door that can't be opened because then what's the point. Maybe it isn't brute force or some kind of trick switch that opens these doors, maybe there's something else entirely." She slowly helped Tucker back up to his feet and he felt extremely light to her and it was some reassurance for her since she thought that she might have been getting weak. "Now before you go searching for any more clues on the ground why don't we try looking at the door, maybe there's something that's out of place. Something that's not supposed to be there."
"Ok maybe you have a point there."
With every moment he was becoming more and more glad that he had brought Jessica along with him for this quest. He didn't want to admit to her but he would have been lost without her. Not only did her size make travelling great distances much easier but also she seemed to be the voice of reason whenever he seemed to be going abnormal. She had always been there for him and would continue to do so as long as they stayed friends.
Tucker looked long and hard at the door and he hoped that he would find something that was off. Much to his annoyance it all seemed to look the same and he wanted nothing more than to rip the doors off of their hinges and throw them to one side. Unfortunately this was impossible for him so he would have to use his brain rather than his brawn to solve this task successful.
It took him several minutes of looking at the door until he did notice one thing that did seem abnormal. The design on the door was mirrored on the other. The precision and detail was emasculate but there was one minor detail that he did notice. It seemed that a carving of a hart had a slight different shaped antler to the hart on the opposing door. It was a detail that would have been easy to miss and Tucker walked up to it carefully and slightly pulled on the antler that was at a slightly different angle.
Both of them expected the doors to suddenly come open but instead there was a light that appeared above the tunnel. It took a few moments for it to form words and at first it was in a language that neither Jessica nor Tucker could read. All they could do was look at it for a few moments and they had no idea what they were going to do. They had no idea what the language was or even if there was anyone who would be able to translate it.
The writing had been up for roughly a minute before the words began to glow and change shape again. Both Jessica and Tucker began to fear that the words were about to fade away and that they had lost their only chance of getting through the door. Instead the words changed into that of the common tongue and after a few moments the words above the door read 'What runs but doesn't walk, with a mouth that never talks?' This got Tucker somewhat confused. He knew that it was a riddle but he had no idea what the answer could be.
"What the hell does that even mean?" asked Tucker as he looked at the riddle. "How can something be able to run and yet not walk and have a mouth that doesn't talk? It isn't a mute runner is it?"
"No Tucker it can't be that," replied Jessica trying to think of the answer. This was one of the times when she was having to use her brains rather than her brawn to solve the problem at hand. "Animals can't talk like us but they can make sounds which can count as talking. There are insects maybe."
"Maybe it might not be an animal at all." He was really having to think and he was thinking that a riddle like this was a little bit too complicated and too easy for it to be an animal. It was extremely unlikely that a person who came down this way would have an extensive knowledge of every animal in the world. It could be something that was entirely different. "Just think about it what runs but can't walk, which has a mouth that doesn't talk? There has to be something that is like that."
Jessica continued to think and as she continued to think she realised something else. The trial was right next to the source of the River Red and she realised that she had the answer within her grasp. It was almost like a connection was being made within her head and she was about the have a eureka moment.
"A river!" shouted Jessica in a loud voice. This caught Tucker by surprise who flinched a little due to the volume of her voice and she realised her mistake soon afterwards. It was just that the realisation of the answer had hit her like an ice cold bucket of water being thrown in her face. "A river runs but never walks and it has a mouth that never talks. That's the answer Tucker, I can't believe that we missed it."
Suddenly the words on the top of the door faded away and there was a groaning noise as the two incredibly heavy doors began to move. They opened away from the pair and there was a huge sigh of relief from both of them as they realised that they had answered correctly and within moments they would be able to go through. From the thickness of the doors Tucker could see why he failed to open them, even with Jessica's full strength it would have been unlikely that she would have been able to open them herself.
It took several moments for the heavy stone doors to move and when they were fully open Tucker was the first to go through. Jessica followed behind closely but the opening was still a little too small for her to walk through normally so as she was accustomed to she ducked to get underneath before she could get to the other side.
The room that they were in now was well lit with a ceiling high enough for Jessica to grow to her full size and not have to worry about striking the ceiling. There was a pedestal in the centre of the room with carvings on the walls all around. From what they could see the carvings seemed to depict some kind of battle that took place long ago before recorded history. It seemed to be from the legendary Age Of Titans where heroes were born, bled and died on the battlefields. There was little to no records dating back from this age but from the few sources that there were it indicated that there was much turmoil and unrest all along the land. With the end of the Age Of Titans came a sense of stability that Angleland which it was still enjoying today.
Tucker couldn't quite tell what was on the pedestal but all he knew was that it was going to be the last part of the trial before the map updated itself and they could move on. He watched as Jessica grew to about thirty feet in height so that she could take a better look around the room to see if there was anything that could present a danger. She couldn't see anything from her heightened vantage point but both of them knew that looks were deceiving. There was most likely something that was going to try and prevent their passage and it was only by performing a test could they see whether or not there were any dangers.
Jessica soon shrank back down to her normal size and picked up a nearby rock that was right next to Tucker. She rolled it across the ground towards the pedestal and almost immediately jets of fire shot up from the ground. From where they were standing both individuals could feel the sheer heat from these jets of fire and it was obvious to both of them that anyone unfortunate enough to step within them would be roasted alive. It was likely that even if Jessica was full size that the jets of fire would still have a good chance of burning her to death.
"Ok so walking towards the pedestal is completely out of the question," said Tucker as he saw the jets of fire die down and recede back into the ground. "If you don't mind I'd rather not find out what it's like to be in an oven." The heat didn't particularly bother him all that much, years working at his family blacksmith had made him experience heat that would be unbearable for most normal people.
"So what are we going to do?" replied Jessica wiping some of the sweat that had formed on her brow. "Do we go all around this room and try and find some way of deactivate those flames or do we simply give up now and go back to Morgan?"
"No I say that we cheat."
Moments later a full size Jessica had Tucker in her hand and she was attempting to gently drop him down right by the pedestal. They had determined that these tiles that led from near the entrance to the pedestal was what caused the jets of fire to flare up. These tiles surrounded the pedestal completely with the area just around the pedestal completely free. The distance for anyone to jump was too great but it was within reach for Jessica to place Tucker down in the safe area.
Thanks to the size of the room she was able to grow to her full size and she could reach over and put Tucker exactly where he wanted. Her feet were away from the titles but her reach was long enough for the task at hand. She was being really careful not to accidentally have part of her giant foot touch a tile or place Tucker too far away from the pedestal. One mistake would cause the jets of fire to flare up again and it would most likely kill them both. The best that Jessica could have hoped for in that situation was that only her dress would burn and she would have no choice but to discard it. The only problem with that was that it would cause her to remain at her full size and unable to leave the room. It wouldn't be too long before she died from thirst.
"Ok careful Jessica," said Tucker as he looked down. He could see that his feet was above the tiles but a short distance away from the safe area. He had already thrown a rock there and discovered that it didn't set off the jets of fire so he knew that it was safe. "Just a little further and that should do it."
"How much further Tucker?" replied Jessica as she continued to stretch him over. She was squatting down and extending her arm. She could easily extend her arm until Tucker was safely across but she didn't want to send him too far in case he accidentally landed on another tile and he would burn to death.
"Not too much you're almost there." He looked directly down and he eventually saw that his feet were dangling over the safe area. "Ok Jess you can drop me here." With that he felt himself gently lower to the ground. As soon as he was touching the ground he felt Jessica's long and soft fingers release him and he took a step forwards towards the pedestal. She was constantly watching him to make sure that he was safe.
As Tucker looked at the pedestal he saw what seemed to be a jewel sitting there. At first he went to pick it up but he discovered that it wouldn't move. Instead of repeatedly trying this time he pressed it down as if he were pushing a button. The gemstone went straight into the pedestal and immediately afterwards a beam of light shot out of the pedestal and went up into the air. This caught Jessica by surprise who had to shield her eyes so that she wouldn't be blinded. The light lasted for several moments before subsiding.
At first nothing seemed to happen but Tucker noticed that the map was beginning to glow. Quickly he took it out of its holder and unravelled it so that he could take a good look at it. To his relief and amazement he saw that the map had now updated itself. It began to show him the way to the second trial and he was more than happy to see that the map wasn't a fake and indeed truly was the one that would lead him and Jessica to Three Man Treasure. He wanted to rub it in the face of Jessica who had her doubts about the map but he decided to keep that to himself.
As Tucker took a closer look at the map he saw that it was now leading to an area just outside of Sun City that was located in the Summer Lands further to the south. It was closer than Tucker expected but it didn't mean that it was going to be easy.
The next thing that Tucker knew he felt a very familiar giant hand pick him up and gently lift him into the air. He felt himself be taken from the safe area, over the tiles and finally back in front of his giantess for a best friend. She saw what had happened and knew that something significant had happened. Tucker's safety was the first thing on her mind however and making sure that he was past the dangers was her primary objective.
"What happened Tucker?" asked Jessica with some enthusiasm. She gave him a small smile since she knew that it was most likely going to be good news.
"The first trial is done and dusted my dear," replied Tucker with confidence in his voice. "The map has updated itself and we can go on our way to the second trial as soon as possible."
"Just give me one moment." With that she placed Tucker down on the ground and slowly began to shrink down to her minimum size, she could make the process as fast as she wanted but this time she wanted it to be at a slower pace just to make a little bit of dramatic effect. When she was down to her minimum size she looked at the map and saw where the second trial was located. A huge smile appeared on her face as she realised that it meant that she could basically kill two birds with one stone. "This is perfect, while we're on our way to the second trial we can stop off at July and take the letter to the High Lord there."
"Wait what?" It was true that the city of July was not too far away from the second trial and most likely they would be going past it on the way. It made sense that they could stop there on the way but he didn't want to think that anything was going to slow them down. "Can't we just skip it and just say that we delivered the note?"
"No Tucker we can't, maybe the letter is something of extreme importance to the lord and by delivering it we will be saving many, many lives. Besides if we do this for the Lord Of July maybe he'll reward us with something to help us with our quest." Personally for Jessica she didn't want a reward but only said it to make Tucker think that there was more reason to go to July and drop the letter off the for the Lord who ruled there.
"Ok you've made your point, it's not like we're exactly going out of our way for it. July is on the way anyway."
Jessica gave him a little smile since she had won another discussion with him. One thing she did notice was that a door on the far end of the room suddenly opened moments after Tucker had pressed the gemstone down. It seemed to be a shortcut out of the underground dungeon and back up to the surface and hopefully sunlight. They were both somewhat glad to think that they were getting out. The experience had not been all that traumatic for them and they were more confident than ever to keep going.
Tucker was the first one to go through the door with Jessica behind him. At first it seemed that there was nothing in this tiny room behind the door and when Jessica went in she also couldn't see anything of interest. The space was so small that there was only enough room for the two of them to stand in but as they looked up they couldn't see the ceiling. Since there was no additional source of light in this room they didn't know whether it was because the ceiling was incredibly high or if it was simply too dark to see it.
Jessica contemplated growing to check how high the ceiling was but there was no chance that she would be able to get anywhere near large enough to make a proper check until she ran out of room. For once it wasn't height wise where she would run out of room but width and length instead.
The two adventurers were just about to step out when suddenly the door that they had gone through suddenly shut behind them. The door had closed so fast that there was nothing that either one could do to prevent it from closing. Also with the door closed their own source of light was gone and they found themselves in complete darkness.
"What the hell!" shouted Tucker as he tried to open the doors himself. Like before they were too heavy for him to move and he couldn't see exactly where the cracks were since he couldn't even see his hand in front of his face. "It won't budge."
"Please don't tell me that we're going to die in here," replied Jessica knowing that there wouldn't be much that she could do either. The space was just too small for her to grow and that was something that scared her.
"Ok I won't but it is a distinct possibility."
This didn't fill the large but gentle woman with confidence and she began to think that this would be the end of their quest. It would be unlikely that anyone would be able to find them in there and even if they did it would probably take centuries. She shed a tear because she felt hopeless but on the plus side was at least she would die besides the man that she cared about greatly.
Suddenly they felt the ground beneath their feet shake a little. It caught them by surprise and the shudder wasn't even strong enough to make them uneven on their feet. The quick shudder was soon followed by the sensation that the ground beneath their feet was rising up into the air. It wasn't just the feeling that it was happening but the fact that they could hear the straining noise as it continued to rise up higher and higher.
Tucker and Jessica had no idea what was happening but they were helpless but to go on for the ride and they hoped that it would lead them to safety. They stood there in silence as the floor continued to rise higher and higher but as they looked up they could still see nothing but darkness. It was only after they had been rising up for several minutes until they saw what seemed to be a door above them begin to slide open. Behind this door they could see the welcome sight of sunlight and the sky. This brought a smile to both of their faces as they knew that they were safe.
When they were finally back on the surface Tucker took a deep breath and welcomed the fact that he and Jessica were both back up to the surface. He saw that he was in a different place from where they had entered the dungeon. The river was a further distance away from them and there was a small wood right next to them. No sooner had the pair taken a few steps forward the ground which they had been standing on began to lower back down from whence it came and the door covered it again. The door itself was covered by mud and grass and thus would make it close to impossible to find.