It was before dawn and all the knights in the building were fast asleep. Many of them had gotten drunk the night before and they had also been enjoying some pleasurable company. However all were rudely awaken when a loud ringing noise caught them all by surprise. One or two of them even fell onto the floor from where they were sleeping and it had caused them a small amount of pain.
The ringing noise had originated from a bell that was being carried by Lord George Hastings. He was a minor Lord that had become one of the commanding officers of Lady O'Hare's army. He wasn't too pleased to be serving under a woman but he his family had sworn allegiance to the O'Hares many years ago and he was honour bound to follow them. He could see that she was more competent than many would have expected and he followed each of her commands.
Lord Hastings was not alone as he had a few other knights helping him with the task. It took less than a minute for everyone inside of the building to be awake. Many of them were unhappy with the rude awakening and were going to shout at the ones responsible. However when they saw Lord Hastings they all stood down.
Lord Hastings was a relatively tall man with a round belly and a thick red beard. Despite the fact that he looked fat he was easily one of the strongest men in Angleland. There were tales that he had never been defeated in a test of strength and that he had even been able stop a charging bull simply by standing his ground. All tales aside he was a sight to behold and he looked even larger thanks to the armour that he was wearing. The armoured covered everything from the neck down, he was in his forties but he still seemed capable enough to take down any opponent.
Within minutes each of the knights were standing outside. The sky was overcast and the sun had yet to rise, most of the knights would have loved nothing more than to have climbed back into bed but that time had passed. Even Sir Tucker was tired and he still hadn't wrapped his head around exactly what was happening.
"Alright you sorry lot!" shouted Lord Hastings. His voice was booming and could easily be heard by them. "Lady O'Hare has decided to move her army to the battlefield as soon as possible. You will all join the other soldiers on the outskirts of this fine city and march to the lands that rightfully belongs to her Ladyship. If I find that any of you are lagging behind I will personally stomp on your balls so hard that your voice will forever sound like that of a maiden!" He heard someone sniggering and this quickly caught his attention. He began to look around in an effort to find the culprit. "Who was that?" His voice was still loud and aggressive. He knew that he was talking to full-fledged knights but this didn't matter to him as he saw them as being below him.
At one point Lord Hastings even came right into Sir Tucker's face. He couldn't help but feel intimidated and it reminded him of a stern father who was about to punish his unruly son. He stared at Sir Tucker for a few moments before moving on. He wanted to punish the one who had sniggered but he didn't have the time. If the knights were not with the rest of the army soon Lady O'Hare would be upset with him. Instead he commanded them to make their way to the rest of the army and desertion would be punished by a swift execution. If there was one thing that Lord Hastings hated it was betrayal and he saw desertion as the ultimate betrayal a soldier could do.
Quickly the knights made their way through the deserted streets. There was no one around save for themselves. Sir Tucker did turn to look at the castle and he did consider going inside to say his farewell to Jessica but he knew that it could be taken as an act of desertion so instead he continued on.
The clouds above were not white clouds but instead were black. It looked as there was going to be some kind of storm heading their way and having rainfall on a battlefield could prove disastrous. Knights would get stuck in the mud thanks to their heavy armour and it would allow them to become easy targets. All they could do was pray to the gods that the weather would not get any worse.
However before Sir Tucker could even leave Featherstone he was called over to a nearby blacksmith by one of the commanding officers. As it turned out Lady O'Hare had determined that any knight who wore light armour had to have it replaced by heavy armour for the battle. Because of this Sir Tucker had a special suit of heavy armour made for him which he was more or less forced to put on.
To him it was very odd having this armour on since it felt heavy on him. Once or twice he had worn heavy armour but never for extended periods of time and more importantly he had never fought in such armour. He would have liked to have had some time to practice but with the battle so close this would be impossible.
However Sir Tucker did look like a knight which would be most associated in stories of old. In his full armour which included a helmet he looked the part of a brave knight who would save the princess in whatever danger she had found herself in. He wondered what Jessica would think if she saw him in the armour, he wasn't even sure that she would be able to recognise him. If he were to see her while wearing the armour he thought about pretending to be someone else before showing who he truly was.
Sir Tucker didn't have time to ponder this as he was hurried to the other soldiers that were all waiting. He was amazed at the sight of the army as he had never seen a real army like this before. They were mainly built up of peasants who had been trained with a weapon but there were numerous knights in there as well. The training that the peasants had been through had been extensive and they would be capable of defending themselves in battle and effectively following orders.
Much to most people's surprise they saw that Lady O'Hare was accompanying the army as well. She had decided that she wasn't going to be a leader that sat comfortably in a castle while her army fought for her. Like before she was also in heavy armour but unlike the soldiers she was on horseback. The horse had been her companion for many years and she considered it to be like a member of her own family rather than just an animal. She wouldn't have liked to have taken it to war but there was no other horse she trusted.
Now the army had the unenviable task of marching to the lands that were being disputed by Lady O'Hare and Lord Sherrigham. It was some miles and it was expected to take a full day before they even got there. For Sir Tucker this was worse than usual since his armour would make him tire out quicker. It made him wish that he had spent more time walking long distances during this quest rather than having Jessica carry him around. For now all he could do was endure.
Back in Featherstone Jessica was waking up and starting her day. She bathed herself thoroughly without the need to take off her dress. She did look at her cast and she knew that it wasn't long before she would have it removed and she could once again grow to her normal size.
One thing that Jessica wanted to do that morning was see Sir Tucker since they had not been able to see each other the previous day. However she was very sad to learn that he had left with the army a few hours before. This made her feel very anxious as she thought that she would never see him again. If she had time to have seen him one more time before he had gone off to war she thought that she would have given him a big kiss and make him promise that he would come back to her. Unfortunately there had been no opportunity to do this and thus all she could do was wait for his return.
Jessica did have a couple of tasks to complete around the castle. There were several large bags of wheat which were being brought into the castle's large pantry. The bags were extremely heavy and required two people to move them. However Jessica was easily able to move them by herself.
If both of Jessica's arms were fully healed it would be possible that she would have been able to take two bags of wheat with her at one time but unfortunately for now she could not. Even so many of the servants were amazed by her feats of strength but for her it was nothing that she wasn't already used to. She had done such jobs when she had been home at the farm. However rather than just being bags of wheat she had to move animals as well and equipment.
Jessica didn't really take any notice to those around her and just went on with her job. She was trying to keep her mind focused on the work rather than thinking about what could happen to Sir Tucker. She didn't need to be a genius to know that the battlefield was an extremely dangerous place and the countless people who had died on them. She just kept thinking to herself that Sir Tucker would return to her in one piece and then they could go and receive their treasure.
One person that Jessica did notice was Tamara who was working in the kitchens. Her body seemed to have had no ill effect of being at a giant size like that for an extended period of time. She also noticed a few of the other maidens who had been test subjects for her ladyship. Each of them were their original size and were more than glad about this. None of them had wanted to repeat the experience.
Eventually Tamara was able to wave over Jessica as they walked down a particularly long corridor. Jessica was carrying another bag of wheat but she was beginning to get tired of the constant carrying around. She had decided that she would take a quick rest after she had finished taking this bag. At first she hadn't noticed Tamara but when she heard her name called she realised what was happening. She was happy to see Tamara who picked up her pace so that she could catch up with the very tall girl. She felt very small in comparison to her.
"Hey Jessica wait up," said Tamara as she just about caught up with the much taller Jessica. "My legs aren't as long as they used to be." She was having to walk at a quicker pace just to keep up with her. "Is everything alright?"
"Not really," replied Jessica who continued to carry the bag of wheat. If she gave it to Tamara it would likely crush the poor girl.
"Why what's the matter?"
"My friend went off to war today and I fear that he won't come back alive. Worse still he didn't come to me to say goodbye. He just up and went without even giving a thought about how I would feel."
"Do you think that maybe he couldn't tell you. Believe me I would want nothing more than to think that he would have done everything to see you but sometimes that's just not possible. I'm sure that he's thinking about you right now."
"I hope so too but still I worry that he is marching to his doom. Can you think of any battles where there were no casualties because I certainly can't."
"All you can do is pray to the gods for his safe return besides I'm pretty sure that he and the rest of the army will be victorious. I remember hearing her ladyship saying that she had some tricks up her sleeve. I don't know exactly what she's planning but I'm sure it'll benefit the troops."
"Maybe but I should still be there looking over him. When I'm at my full size practically nothing can stop me." She wanted to believe that she was invincible but she knew that wasn't the case. If she were t face an entire army she knew that she won't last very long but she would have plenty of fight in her.
"I'm sorry I keep forgetting that you can grow even larger, although I haven't seen you do it yet."
"Believe when this damn cast is off my arm I can show you just how large I can become. I could probably be taller than this castle."
"Really? Oh I forgot to ask, how did you break your arm in the first place?"
"I fell over a hill."
"Yeah right..." She thought that Jessica was joking but when she saw the look that the taller woman was giving her she could see that she was serious. "Oh my, you're serious. You can become that big?"
"Not in the way that you imagine but yeah pretty big." Eventually they came to a fork in the corridor. Jessica's duties would take her one way while Tamara's would take her another route. "I'll see you later."
"Ok if you need to talk you know where I'll be."
The two women parted ways and Jessica just continued on with her work. She walked by a few people and she saw them briefly looking at her before she walked by. She would ignore them and just keep her mind focused on the job at hand. However she was finding this more and more difficult.
Miles away Sir Tucker was still marching with the rest of the army. Unfortunately the weather had turned against them as it began to rain. It wasn't too heavy and was more of an annoyance rather than anything else. There had been some talk between the soldiers as they marched and a few of them were mentioning about a secret weapon which was located at the back of the army.
The secret weapon was being pulled by horses which each pulled a weapon. There was roughly two dozen of these so call secret weapons and only a handful of soldiers had been specially trained to operate them. No one could really imagine what this weapon is but Lady O'Hare said that it was something that would revolutionise warfare.
For now Sir Tucker was just left to his own imagination as he continued to walk but eventually they were permitted to rest and some food was passed around to the various soldiers. A tent was erected for Lady O'Hare and the other commanding officers so that they didn't have to be in the rain. They could dine there in peace and also continue to go over strategy amongst one another.
Lady O'Hare was confident of victory because of her secret weapon and the fact that the battle would be on a hill. The high ground would give them a clear advantage over Lord Sherringham's army but she didn't think that he would be foolish enough to try and attack her while she had the high ground. However she already had an idea of how she could still deliver a decisive blow. She had plenty of archers in her body but she felt that she had something more effective than archers.
She could already taste victory but she knew by allowing this to go any further she might be encouraging the wrath of the king. He had decreed that the land belonged to Lord Sherringham but she would fight for them nonetheless. If the King did send his own army to try and defeat hers she still thought that she would be victorious. However all of this depended first on victory against the Sherringhams.
The group had received news from their scouts. They had counted the Sherringams at five thousand strong while their army counted around seven. The armies were small but if worse came to worse she would recruit more men and with additional time she thought that she would be able to get the numbers needed to fight a larger army. Her army did have a numbers advantage but she wanted to save as many of her troops as she could. She considered just pounding the other army into submission.
The other soldiers didn't have the same mentality as their ladyship. They just wanted to get the battle done with so that they could go back home to their families and loved ones. The last thing they were considering was continually fighting one battle after another. It wasn't something that they were really considering and instead they just concentrated on the here and now.
Sir Tucker was sitting down on the wet ground and eating some bread that had been handed to him. The bread was not the best that he had tasted but it would do for now, it did remind him a little of Jessica's cooking as she tried her best but the gods had not blessed her with the talents of cooking.
He looked and he could see some of the other soldiers laughing and joking amongst themselves. Some of them saw the battle as more of a game than anything else, they wanted glory and a decent story to tell their grandchildren many years from now. However Sir Tucker was not so joyful in the idea of battle, he just hoped that they could achieve victory with minimum casualties.
Eventually the army was commanded to continue moving forwards much to their annoyance. Nevertheless they each got up from where they were sitting and continued walking. Some of them had felt that they hadn't been given long enough to sufficiently rest but none of them had taken this issue up with Lady O'Hare. They all knew what would happen if they did so they just did as they were told and kept moving.
At the back of the army Lady O'Hare was riding her noble steed and she was happy with the army that she had amassed. However her joy was broken when one of her commanding officers, rode up beside her. He was Lord Alan Spice who was middle-aged and had been involved in a battle or two himself. However they had been for the king against bandits and raiders, never had he done anything like this and although he didn't want to admit it he was getting cold feet.
"My Lady may I have a word?" asked Lord Spice as he arrived at Lady O'Hare's side. If they stood right next to one another she would have been around an inch taller than him but there seemed to be no difference at this moment.
"What is on your mind Lord Spice?" replied Lady O'Hare as she didn't even look at him as she spoke.
"Do you really think that this is a good idea? They're just a few mines and the wealth that would be lost is not that big of a deal. You will still make a decent amount of gold from the iron that you sell."
"Gold is not the point of this." Her words were still stern and although gold did have some importance it was only secondary. "The point is that lands that rightfully belong to my family is being stolen."
"Will you not reconsider?"
"Until those lands belong to my family again I will not reconsider. I don't care if the king sends his entire army, I will fight every last one of them until my last breath. For every one of our soldiers that fall in battle we will destroy ten of theirs."
"I-I..." He tried to say something that he hope would make her reconsider but he could see that nothing he said would change her mind. All he could do was give her a little bow and ride away from her.
Lady O'Hare continued to focus forward as they were getting closer to the disputed mines. From the information that she had been given she was confident that they would reach their destination before the Sherringham army so they would have some time to place defences and gain a larger advantage.
Just ahead of her were numerous horses which were pulling the secret weapons that had been in development. She couldn't wait to unleash them on the battle field and she would view the destruction and devastation they would cause. Even a castle wall could be destroyed with this weapon and she could only imagine what it could do to a man in armour. She doubted anyone could survive being struck by it.
For many more hours the army marched as the rain continued to come down. It never truly poured down but it was still causing a few problems from the army. The wet mud caused a few of them to get stuck for a moment before they could free themselves. Many of them had wet feet and they felt cold with the wind blowing in their faces. Even though it was still spring the weather was cool and to many of the soldiers it almost felt like it was winter weather. At least they didn't have to worry about snow since that would be practically disastrous for them.
Just as night began to fall the army was called to a halt. Thankfully for them they had reached their destination and so they began to make camp. Unlike when they had stopped for a rest enough tents were being raised to house all the soldiers. However the tents were very basic and didn't have much to offer except some shelter and resistance from the wind. The best tents were reserved for the high borns. No matter how much some disagreed with this it was the way it always had been.
Eventually the rain and wind died down and some of them even went as far as to try and cook some of the rations that they had been given. They were even lucky enough to receive some meat along with their rations which were being cooked over many fires that they had built themselves.
Some of the knights even sat in the nearby mines to eat although since night had fallen it was very hard to see. Nevertheless there was still some joy between the soldiers as they prepared for the upcoming battle. From the information that they had been given it seemed like they were certain for victory.
In the distance some of the lookouts could see the distinct light of torches in the distance. It seemed like the Sherringham army had finally arrived. However there was something that caused them some worry, there were a lot more torchlights than they had originally thought and within a few minutes they realised that the information that they had been brought was incorrect.
Before the scouts had reported that the Sherringham army was only made up of a few thousand. However now it seemed like their numbers were triple that of Lady O'Hare's army. Almost immediately one of the scouts had gone to report this to her ladyship who was just preparing for bed. However when the news reached her she saw fit to look for herself, much to her horror she could see that what she had been told was no mistake. In the darkness she could see the torchlight of the opposing army.
However she could also hear the opposing army hurling insults at her forces. There were even some insults directed to her personally. She was not amused by these comments and she would have wanted her troops to have attacked immediately. However she knew that her men were tired and fighting at night was not the most sound of strategies. Instead she knew that the battle would start in the morning but before then it seemed like there was a lot of planning to do.
Word also began to reach the other soldiers and their morale began to take a dive. Their confidence seemed to evaporate in an instant, their thoughts of an impending victory instead went to one of impending doom. There were even talks between a few of the soldiers about deserting, it would be dishonourable and lead to their executions but they at least would like a little longer than if they stayed.
However some of the commanding officers caught wind of these plans and put an end to them before anyone even attempted to leave. They were reminded of their duty and the fact that they were going to be fighting defensively. They were also reminded that the greater numbers didn't always win battles.
One thing that Lady O'Hare's forces still had going for them was the fact that they had the high ground. Even so the odds of victory seemed to be low and even Lady O'Hare was contemplating allowing the Sherringhams to have the land. However these thoughts were dashed when she thought about her family. In her mind these lands rightfully belonged to them and that only an O'Hare can lay claim to them.
Upon the morning one rider from each army rode out to the middle ground which separated both armies. These riders were not random people but the leaders of the armies. Lady O'Hare rode out and she could a horse carrying Lord Sherringham riding towards her. Like her he was in full armour but neither of them were carrying weapons. It was an offense to the Gods to try and strike down an enemy when they had come simply to talk. Both of their armies stayed put and at no point did any of them attempt to march forward without some kind of command from their Lord or Lady.
Lord Sherringham looked to be quite a tall man but his actual appearance was protected by the armour that he wore. However when he did reach Lady O'Hare he took off his helmet so that she could see that it was him and not some kind of decoy. He was a man in his fifties with short black hair that began to turn grey. He had some stubble on his face indicating that it had been a few days since he had last shaved.
"Greetings my Lady," said Lord Sherringham as he stopped his horse. Lady O'Hare wasn't wearing her helmet either so he could see that it was clearly her.
"My Lord," replied Lady Sherringham who felt that it was best to reply in the same manner that he had addressed her.
"It's not really a nice day to have a battle. I think your soldiers would prefer to be inside and trying to find gold at the bottom of an ale mug."
"My soldiers will leave but only when you rescind your claim to this land. You know that this land has belonged to my family for centuries."
"You know that won't happen. The King has stated that this land belongs to my family. I implore you to see reason here my Lady. You are going against the words of your king and your forces are significantly outnumbered. Do you think your soldiers are willing die for a worthless cause?"
"They will fight to the last man if need be. My men are better equipped than yours and we have the high ground. I am giving you this last chance to stand down before we do something that we will later regret."
"It seems that we have come to an impasse my Lady. All I can say that I hope that you survive the battle."
"As do I my Lord. I will see you again once this battle has ended."
With that both returned to their armies and it seemed more than ever that the battle was going to go ahead. However many feared that they would not survive and already many had started praying to the Gods. They hoped that their prayers would be answered or the Gods might have turned their backs on them.