The next morning Sir Tucker was awoken just before dawn. He had been sleeping in the same bed with Jessica again and he found himself stuck in her arms. She had been holding him tightly and with some amount of difficulty he was able to wrestle himself free without the need to wake the sleeping giantess. Slowly he got out of the bed and although he was tired he knew that there was much he needed to do. Carefully he put his light armour on and tied his sword and shield to his body.
Before leaving the room he took one look at the sleeping Jessica. She seemed to be very peaceful and he almost felt bad for having to leave her. He quietly walked towards her and gave her a kiss on her forehead before disembarking. He didn't see the small smile appear on her face after the kiss.
Moments later Sir Tucker found himself just outside of the castle where most of the other knights were waiting for him. Much to his annoyance he could see that it was pouring it down with rain, he had prayed for decent weather but it seemed like they wouldn't be getting it on that morning.
The knights waited for a few more minutes until their final member arrived. With all six of them there now they were ready to make the trip over to the mine to deal with the problem at hand. However there was one complication that they hadn't really counted for and that was the fact that they would be travelling on horseback. Sir Tucker had never ridden a horse, it was Jessica who had been carrying him around from place to place and although he had ridden carriages pulled by horses this wasn't the same.
This unfortunately led to a small amount of ridicule from his fellow knights who thought that it was odd to have a knight who didn't know how to ride a horse. However one of the knights did offer to take him on his own horse. It would make the horse slower since it was carrying two knights but he thought that it would be up to the task.
With each of the knights on their horses they began the trek towards the mine in question. They could see no sun rising as the rainclouds covered the entire sky and poured down on top of them. If any of them hadn't bathed before leaving they would certainly be cleaned now from all the rain. It made it hard to see as well since the wind was blowing towards them and making the rainwater go into their eyes. Constantly the knights had to wipe their eyes of rainwater, this was more of an annoyance for them rather than a setback as each of them were still more than capable despite the weather.
Eventually after a few minutes of riding the group reached the mine and they began to spread out just like they had planned. However Sir Tucker had a very special role that he needed to fulfil. The knights had brought a large slab of raw meat that they had gotten from one of the butchers. It was tied to a rope and then left at the entrance to mine, he kept a hold of the rope and now simply played the waiting game. Each knight remained silent as each of them waited for a great wolf to appear.
Rather than speaking the knights communicated with each other with simple hand gestures. Sir Tucker probably had the most dangerous job out of all them but he was still some distance from the mine, his gaze did not leave the entrance as he looked for any sign of movement from within. All he could see was darkness and although he would probably see more if he took a closer look he was as close as he wished to be. He could still remember what happened the last time he had been there. The sound of Sir Robert dying was something that he would probably never forget.
After close to half an hour of waiting Sir Tucker saw what seemed to be a large snout peeping out from the entrance. It moved down to the slab of meat and began to sniff at it. He decided to pull the rope to bring the meat further out into the open. As was predicted the great wolf followed it as it wanted its free meal. It came out into the open and for many of the knights it was the first time that they had ever seen a great wolf in the open. Its fur was silver and it stood taller than any of the knights present. For the moment it was fixated on the knights and hadn't really taken much notice of anything around it. This would prove to be a fatal mistake.
With one subtle gesture a crossbow bolt fired from nearby and struck the wolf right in the neck. It began to choke as the bolt had struck its windpipe and it couldn't breathe. In its weakened state two of the other knights charged towards it and stabbed it repeatedly until it fell. The attack was so quick that the great wolf didn't have time to properly react before it died. Sir Tucker did feel some sympathy towards it but he and the other knights still had a job to do
Only part of the job had been completed as they knew that there was at the very least one more great wolf remaining and until they removed it the mine would be unsuitable for miners to work. Instead of going in straight away the knights prepared the trap once again and with some difficulty even moved the dead body of the wolf that they had already killed. However after an hour it was obvious that the other great wolves were going to fall for the trick. However this had been predicted and already they had made preparations.
The knights had brought some torches which they had been keeping dry from the rain. They simply went inside the entrance of the mine which was still being lit up by daylight and one by one each of the torches were lit up. This gave them the light that they needed and they could hear the growling of a wolf.
Rather than panicking the knights remembered their training and kept themselves composed. Two knights formed at the front of the group and kept their shields high so that they would be of some protection for the rest of them. The two knights behind them held long spears that could easily jab at a great wolf from a distance. The two at the back provided protection from the rear in case they were attacked from behind.
Sir Tucker was unfortunate enough to be in the front row with his shield held up high. He was partnered with another knight named Sir Arthur the Large. Sir Tucker had found this nickname to be unusual since Sir Arthur was only an average sized man. However he was told that Sir Arthur was large where it counted, this immediately made Sir Tucker regret his question.
Carefully the group of knights made their way inside of the mine and each step was taken with great care. Once or twice they even stopped because they thought that they were about to be attacked. However both times had been false alarms and they continued on, each of them wanted to get out alive and in one piece so they were sticking to the formation to ensure their survival.
Unfortunately Sir Tucker felt something underneath his foot. He took a look down and saw that it was a bone, he couldn't tell whether it was an animal bone or that of a human. Either way he didn't want to know. This is one of those instances he thought that ignorance was indeed bliss.
Not a single unnecessary sound was made between the knights as they continued their way through the mine. It seemed like their journey was drawing to an end but they didn't know whether this was going to be a good thing was yet to be determined. Although they wanted to find the great wolves a part of them hoped that they would find nothing. Facing such creatures was perilous in any situation.
Just ahead Sir Tucker saw something twinkling in the torch light. He soon realised that it was none other than the eyes of a great wolf. Quickly he signalled the other knights and the formation came to a halt. There were a few seconds of silence as they waited for the great wolf to make the next move.
Rather than backing down the great wolf began to edge closer towards them. The shields and spears were front and centre in order to both attack the great wolf but also defend the knights from harm. It seemed that the atmosphere inside of the mine could be cut with a knife.
The knights edged closer and the great wolf responded by slashing at them. The shields being held by Sir Tucker and Sir Arthur stayed strong. They successfully deflected the slash and the two knights behind them responded with strong spear thrusts that seemed to hit their mark.
However the blows only wounded the great wolf rather than outright killing it. It began to back away but rather than chasing after it the knights remained in formation and kept walking forward at a steady pace. If any of them broke from their formation it could mean the death of all of them. Only cool heads would prevail in this situation as they kept going in hopes of a victory.
Back at the castle in Featherstone Jessica began to wake up from her deep and much needed sleep. The first thing that she noticed was the fact that Sir Tucker was not in bed, this disappointed her a little but she knew that he had to go on his important assignment. However seeing him whenever she woke up always made her feel like she was going to have a good day.
Slowly Jessica stood up from the bed and ducked her head under some of the beams in the ceiling and moved towards a wash basin and mirror that was close by. Unfortunately it was made for someone of a normal stature so she had to go down to her knees to be able to use it properly. Like almost every morning she would have to wash herself decently while still wearing the dress. However after all of these years this was a skill that she had mastered as she washed herself thoroughly. One thing that she didn't need to worry about her dress was cleaning it. Dirt didn't seem to last very long on the dress and any odour that was there would dissipate immediately. She put it down to the magic of the dress that she had always felt was truly a gift ever since she received it.
After washing Jessica's next goal was eating a decent sized breakfast. This had never been the easiest task for her due to her size but she felt quite lucky today since she and Sir Tucker were still guests for Lady O'Hare. She just stepped out of her room and saw some people going around doing their normal duties. A couple took a few moments to look up at her but then they would go back to their own work.
Eventually Jessica found herself in the kitchen where some of the cooks were already preparing breakfast. However most of their efforts were going to making food for the maidens who had sampled the potions. Tamara in particular was very hungry and unfortunately she had not yet returned to her former size. This would not be for another couple of hours at least but it couldn't come soon enough for Caroline who was still near microscopic in size, Thankfully for her she hadn't experienced any more pain after being handled by Lady O'Hare which meant she was still at the same size. One more impact would likely cause her to shrink so small that she would be invisible to the human eye. She would enter a world where monsters truly dwelt and her life expectancy would only be in seconds rather than years.
There was enough for Jessica to eat a light breakfast which did take the edge off of her hunger. However curiosity got the better of her as she walked towards where Tamara was located. As expected the giant women was still in the hall and had barely moved from where she was sitting. There were servants who were bringing her food but she ate it almost as fast as they could bring it.
It only took Tamara a few moments to realise that Jessica was even there. She smiled and waved at Jessica as the tall woman approached. She felt that Jessica had truly been a friend to her during this hard time. She even stopped eating so that she could properly talk to her new friend.
"Hey there Jessica," said Tamara. For Jessica it still seemed odd having to look up to someone like Tamara. She was always used to the scales being the other way around. However it was nice to feel small for a change.
"Hey Tamara," replied Jessica as she looked up at the giantess. "I see that you're still being fed well."
"Yeah her ladyship commanded that I remain well fed until I shrink back down to normal. She might be very stern at times but deep down I know that she's nice. If I knew I would be treated like this I would have drunk more of the potion." She laughed at herself over this and Jessica did eventually join in. But this was only to comfort the giant woman rather than finding it funny. "If you were bigger than this most of your life just how did your parents feed you?"
"I grew up on a farm so we grew our own food. My size did help us harvest the food faster but since I got my dress living on the farm became much easier. I could grow when work needed to be done and shrink when it was time to eat. Of course I wish I could shrink smaller than eight feet but it was a lot better than the alternative." There was one other question that Tamara wanted to ask and that was how she used to go to the toilet but she felt that this was a question better left unasked.
"It has been nice being big for a while but to tell you the truth I can't wait to shrink back down to normal. This hall might be grand but it is far from the most comfortable place to sleep in Angleland." This did cause both women to giggle to one another but before she could say another word she felt a strange sensation throughout her body. She looked down at Jessica who did have a somewhat concerned look on her face. "I-I think it's about to happen." It was definitely a familiar feeling that she had the previous day.
Jessica wanted to talk but before she could say another word she saw Tamara's head suddenly shrink. It happened in almost an instant as one moment her head seemed to be proportional to the rest of her body and a moment later it was back down to its original size. Jessica even felt like she needed to take a step back.
Next Tamara's torso began to shrink except it was at a slightly slower pace than when her head shrank. Jessica could clearly see the torso shrinking until once again it was down to its original size. Next was her legs which seemed to retreat back into her body. This was a bit of a disappointment for Tamara since she liked having long legs but she didn't want to be on the same level as Amanda's but just a bit longer than normal.
Tamara's arms also began to retract as they shrank back to their normal size. Jessica could see that what she was witnessing was almost identical to what had happened the previous day except in reverse. But now Tamara was able to stand up although she still had impossibly large feet for her body. However this didn't last long as her feet also began to shrink and within moments they were back to their original size.
Tamara was glad to be her normal size again and she looked up at Jessica and for the first time she realised just how tall she was. When she had been a giantess Jessica had seemed bigger than everyone else but it was only now did she fully comprehend just how much taller Jessica was. Tamara only stood around five and a half feet tall which meant that there was more than a two and a half foot height difference between the two women. Never had she felt so small in her life.
"There we go," said Jessica with a smile on her face. She was genuinely glad to see Tamara small again. "You're back to your normal size."
"Mostly," replied Tamara as she looked down and slightly lifted up one of her feet. "I swear that my feet were not this big before."
"I'm sure that it's all in your mind. Now since you're normal why don't you give me a tour of the castle, I tried to look around myself but I got lost a couple of times." She continued to grin as she made this little joke. For Tamara it was just a little something to make her feel better as she willingly agreed to Jessica's request.
Meanwhile back inside of the mine the knights were still moving forwards as they were cornering the great wolf. They couldn't see it properly but they still felt that the situation was under their control. Once or twice they tried to jab the wolf with a spear but it had not been successful.
Sir Tucker held his shield firmly as every now and again he would have to block a slash from the great wolf. It was a strong beast but his own strength had kept his shield from faltering. He along with the other knights remained in silence but instead worked together a single unit. It would be impressive for others to see a group of knights working together in such a way. However they were not patting themselves on the back just yet. There was still a lot of work that they needed to do first.
Unfortunately one of the knights at the rear saw that there was another great wolf who was behind them. Since the knights were now facing two wolves, one from the front and the other from the rear they stopped in their tracks. Their tactics transformed from one of offense to defence instead. One spear holding knight turned around so that his spear was pointing at the rear of the group.
The task at hand had become more difficult but not impossible for them to overcome. For a knight such as Sir Tucker he saw this as a decent chance to prove his worth and show that he had earned his knighthood. More than ever he would have liked to have lunged forward and struck the great wolf ahead of him but instead he stayed in his formation and stood by just as he had been instructed.
The two great wolves who now saw that they were at an advantage began to step closer to the knights who stood their ground. Spear jabs would be thrusted if any of them got too close to them. Unfortunately this wouldn't be enough for the knights to win victory on this day so they had to take some drastic measures.
In two teams of three the knights rushed at the great wolves and they were able to stab the wolves with the spears. The spears had gone in quite deeply but not too deep that they couldn't be pulled out with ease. Before the great wolves could react to the attack the knights had already retreated back into their formation which continued to protect them from serious harm.
The attack was not enough for the wolves to fall so a second rush was in order. Sir Tucker waited for the signal to quickly move forward with his shield still held up. As he rushed forward he felt a sharp blow to his shield which caused him to stagger back for a moment. He recovered quickly however as he brought his shield back up in order to protect the spear wielding knight.
Another spear jab went into the great wolf and it gave a howl of pain as it bled. The wound was grave and slowly it fell to the ground and died where it had once stood. With it now dead the other knights retreated back and this time they could concentrate on the great wolf that was behind them. It had withstood the first two attacks but now it had two spears facing it this time.
Although Sir Tucker would have liked to have been involved his view was still fixed on the group's front. The last thing they wanted was some kind of surprise attack. It would rip them to shreds and he would feel that it was his fault. He also considered what Jessica might do if he were to die on this mission. She would likely be absolutely devastated by his passing and he didn't know how she would cope without him.
The only sound from a knight that could be heard was the voice of Sir Timothy who unfortunately was unlucky enough to have the great wolf slash at his arm. The wound was not fatal but it caused him some pain and would need to be treated as soon as they returned to Featherstone. He also had to move his shield from his much favoured right arm to his left arm. His cry had only lasted for a moment before he regained his composure and stayed in formation.
The knights still had the advantage as they moved towards the Great Wolf at a steady pace. Sir Tucker was able to keep up even though he was more or less having to walk backwards just so that he could keep his eyes fixated on the other side of the mine shaft. However the unit soon stopped and he heard the spears being thrusted forwards repeatedly and the howls of pain before there was a sudden thud and silence. He didn't need to be intelligent to know that the great wolf was dead.
However their work was not done yet. There was still plenty more of the mine to explore and there could be more great wolves inside. Slowly but surely the unit continued to move through the mine, each of them looked out for any kind of danger that might be lurking around the corner.
For the next couple of hours the knights explored the cave thoroughly but there were no sign of additional great wolves. It was then that they decided to leave and report their success back to Lady O'Hare. Each of them made their way back out of the mine and back into natural light. However the rain hadn't changed at all as it was still raining heavily. The horses that had been waiting were completely soaked and all they wanted to do was get back into the dry as soon as possible.
With their mission a success the knights mounted their horses and rode away back to Featherstone. Sir Tucker was able to get one of the knights to give him a ride back as well. The walk would have been long and with the rain it would have made it very uncomfortable for him as well. After travelling so long while being carried by a giantess had become his preferred form of travel.
The knights were happy with themselves after a job well done but Sir Timothy was still in some pain. He had tried to dress his wound but he still needed to see a healer before the wound became infected. If that were to happen he would likely lose his arm or worse, his life. He preferred to keep both his life and his arm intact and afterwards he would probably scold himself for not being careful enough.
After a few minutes of riding Featherstone came into view but the rain in their eyes was an annoyance for them. They had gotten away with some nice weather for a while so the rain was more or less expected. They were just glad that they didn't get as much rain as the Wetlands.
The Wetlands were quite far to the north and as the name suggested was one of the wettest places in Angleland. The amount of rain there was almost legendary and it was rumoured that it rained there every day although this was likely not the case. It was ruled by the Drinkwater family almost as long as recorded history and was even the source of the great River White which practically cut the entire kingdom in half.
However Sir Tucker's mind was not on the Wetlands but rather getting back into the castle and having a warm meal with Jessica sitting beside him. He did consider taking a bath but his hunger outweighed his need to bathe. He also knew that Jessica would likely give him an enormous hug, one so strong that he wouldn't have a chance to break out of it but instead just wait until she was done.
Sir Tucker almost expected there to be some kind of fanfare as they returned to Featherstone with their mission being a success. However as they rode inside there was no one there to give them praise for their achievement. Everyone had enough sense to stay indoors and out of the rain. Even if it were a bright and sunny day they probably would have still gone about their business rather than seeing to the knights' return.
It was only a couple more minutes after this that they eventually reached the castle and the horses were tended to by the stable boys. The horses were eager to get out of the rain and there were plenty of oats for them for them to eat as they watched the knights make their way inside of the castle. Each one was soaked through and one of them had even started sneezing as if he had caught a cold.
Almost as soon as Sir Tucker entered the castle he could see Jessica waiting there for him. She would have loved to pick him up and give him a big hug but she didn't want to make him look less like a man in front of the other knights. She was stronger than the average man but seeing a knight picked up by a woman was not something that was the norm. However if it were behind closed doors it would be a different story.
"Thank the gods that you're alright," said Jessica as she took a quick look over him. She couldn't see any injuries on his person. This was a great relief for her as she had started to fear the worst.
"Did you expect anything less from me?" replied Sir Tucker who acted like it wasn't that big of a deal. However when it came to Jessica everything was a big deal. "I am Sir Tucker the Constant if you remember."
"I certainly do good sir." She smiled down at him and although she knew that he was a capable knight now she knew that she would never stop worrying about him. Whenever he would go off on dangerous missions she would always worry about his safety. It was just something inside of her that prevented her from feeling relaxed about it. "Was it a difficult task?"
"Nah it was easy." He knew that it had been a somewhat difficult task but he just didn't want to worry his friend. "Those great wolves didn't stand a chance against six well trained knights working in unison. I even considered bringing one of the wolves back so that you could have a pelt."
"Oh." Her smile disappeared and she crossed her arms. She looked down at him and gave him a disappointed look. "You shouldn't really brag about things like that. They might have been animals and I know you had to remove them by any means necessary but you still shouldn't say things like that." She had never liked harming animals, even ones that were considered to be dangerous.
Before they could speak more a man walked passed who also carried a sigil of House O'Hare. He began to shout that all persons inside the castle were to travel to the hall since Lady O'Hare had an important announcement to make. This was for everyone ranging from the most glorious of knights all the way down to the lowest servant. Tardiness wasn't going to be acceptable.
Sir Tucker and Jessica had no idea what was happening but they did as they were told. They quickly made their way to the hall where they saw several other people waiting. However before anything happened they had to wait for everyone else to get there. This was only for a few minutes but eventually when everyone else was there they felt that the proceedings could begin. However there was one person who was missing, this was Lady O'Hare herself who remained absent.
However after a few moments Lady O'Hare did enter the hall however rather than wearing a nice dress instead she was in a full suit of armour that had been tailor made for her. She also wore a cape that had her family's sigil on but she didn't have her helmet on. She also carried her family's sword and she refused to have anyone else carry it. Her father had wanted it to go to a male heir but since he never had one it had gone to her and she would keep it until the end of her days.
Rather than sitting down on her seat she remained standing so that everyone could see her. She had butterflies in her stomach but she still stood strong in front of everyone and she knew that her words would be of great importance. It would determine the fate of not just the O'Hare name but for everyone who lived and worked in Featherstone for generations to come.