Jessica and Tucker allowed themselves a little bit of time before they moved on. They did have a rest before they set off and they had something to eat first. Going through the first trial had made both travellers hungry so they decided to have lunch before they went anywhere else. Jessica did ask Tucker if she wanted to cook any of the food but the wannabe knight politely declined, he stated it was so that they could carry on their quest in haste but in reality it was because he didn't like her cooking. He cared too much about her feelings to tell her that to her face so this was a little white lie.
The uncooked lunch did go down well with both adventurers and no sooner had they finished eating Tucker got up to his feet very quickly. He staggered a little since he was still getting used to the weight of the shield that he had acquired. It looked like he was about to topple over but thankfully he was able to stay on his feet and keep his bearings. He had prevented himself from looking like a fool and he was about to carry on walking towards the south. In his haste he had gotten his directions wrong and was actually facing west rather than south.
As Tucker began to walk he heard a giggle come from Jessica before he felt her giant hand wrap around him and lift him a couple of feet into the air. She had gone from minimum to maximum size so quickly that it had caught Tucker somewhat by surprise. She still had a smile on her face as she found what Tucker was doing.
"I believe south is that way," said Jessica as she turned Tucker's body ninety degrees to his left before placing him back on the ground gently. "You would have been walking a long way and yet still not get to July."
"I knew that," replied Tucker trying to make it seem that he had intended to turn the wrong way. "I was just seeing if you were paying attention that's all." He seemed so confident with his words that even he began to believe himself that he was telling the truth. All this got was another giggle from the gentle giantess who continued to look down at him.
"Sure you were Tucker, sure you were. Now do you want me to carry you or do you want to go the entire way on foot?"
This was a no brainer for Tucker, some knights might think that being carried by a woman would be demeaning but this was definitely a special circumstance. Allowing Jessica to carry him didn't just make the journey faster but it also made it safer. Not many bandits and thieves would try and rob them if they saw a one hundred and twenty five foot giantess coming their way, if they had common sense they would run to the hills as fast as their legs could carry them.
Tucker had seen Jessica scare bandits before and he even swore that he saw one of them lose control of his bladder. She never harmed them, just scared them and he doubted that the bandit ever tried to steal again. It was also a reminder what she could do if she got angry but in truth he didn't have reason to fear her, she had always been kind and gentle to him, even when he was being difficult.
He gave her a quick nod and almost immediately he felt his body lift into the air as he found himself face to face with the gentle giantess. She placed him on her right shoulder and tied a few strands of hair around him for his own safety. Whenever she carried him or anyone for that matter she always made sure that the little person's safety was at the top of her priority. Once she had placed Tucker on her shoulder and not wrapped any hair around him. At one point he fell and she was just able to catch him before he struck the ground and met a gruesome end.
The trip to July would take Jessica a few days, even at her maximum size but it was definitely going to be quicker than going at her smallest size. The distance would take any normal man a couple of weeks to travel if they were on foot, on horseback maybe a week but travelling by giantess was definitely the fastest means of transport. Besides the view that Tucker could see was experienced by very few individuals.
By the next morning the pair had already made good progress and they could already feel the weather beginning to warm up. This was a clear indication that they were nearing July and the Summer Lands. The Summer Lands were famous for its warm weather, even in the middle of winter. The scenery of the Summer Lands were second to known as the somewhat tropical weather made plants grow here that couldn't be found anywhere else in Angleland. It made the Summer Lands a much desired area of land.
In fact the Lord of July had only received his position a few years before. He had been a lord of another small settlement just a few short miles away from the city of July. He claimed to have an ancestral right to the seat and he was refused, in response he was able to gather several legions of soldiers who were loyal to him and he took the city by force.
News of this spread throughout the land and especially quickly to Royal City where the King of Angleland were resident. The new Lord of July had written to them several times demanding that he have July returned to him and his family like in the days of old. This request was turned down so he saw conquest for the city that he thought was rightfully his. He took it without mercy.
When all the fighting was done the members of House O'Donnell were nothing but memories and all those who had been loyal to them bent the knee to him. Many more lords feared that this new Lord of July would carry on until he was King of Angleland, the chances of him succeeding would have been very low but there was no doubt that many more people would have died before the bloodshed ended.
The new Lord of July was satisfied with simply obtaining the city and already under his lordship the city was experiencing what it was calling a new Golden Age. The city and the surrounding lands were exporting wines and numerous herbs for healing that was sent throughout Angleland and beyond. It was due to this that not only was the Lord of July not only the most ruthless lord in Angleland but also the most wealthiest. His rule there was absolute but there were numerous rumours about him that no knew were true or just simply made up.
Jessica and Tucker had been following the River Red since it took them fairly near to the City Of July. Not only that but it also gave them a source of water and every now and again they would go fishing to obtain some much needed food. Rather than using fishing rods Jessica would cup her enormous hands into the river and then scoop up some of the water. She would then open her fingers slightly to allow the water run out but any fish that were unfortunate enough to be in her hands would soon be the dinner of the gentle giantess and wannabe knight.
For the next part it was Tucker who cooked the fish. This was one thing that he was quite good at and he was easily able to start a fire that was hot enough to cook the fish through and make a tasty meal. He had learned as a blacksmith how to start fires and exactly how to create fires that were warm enough to metal steel.
Even when the pair were still in Morgan Jessica would take Tucker to the nearby lake where she bathed so that he could go fishing. His family would cook the fish and there was always enough for her to eat with them. This was a memory that she cherished and gave her the belief that even though most people treated her like a monster there were still a few who treated her like a human being.
Even at her smallest size Jessica ate almost double what Tucker ate and when she was at her full size it was almost impossible to satisfy her hunger. Quite a lot of the time she had eaten enough to feed an entire village and yet she would have room for even more. There was no doubt that if she was her maximum size all the time like she was before her parents wouldn't be able to feed her and the fact that she was still growing at a steady rate meant that her appetite would keep growing along with her height.
Both Tucker and Jessica were beginning to feel a little too warm as they entered the Summer Lands. Although he didn't like to admit it Tucker was sweating below his armour and he was needing drinks of water much more frequently than before. Unfortunately the River Red didn't run all the way down to July so for about half the trip from their starting point the two would have to rely on pouches of water that they had been able to fill up. They had brought several empty pouches with them for such an emergency.
Before they said goodbye to the River Red they filled up all of these pouches and Jessica placed them in her pocket. For almost all the time that they were travelling she remained at her maximum size so that she could carry all the water. The only time when she would shrink was when she was either eating or going to the toilet. She was even sleeping at her maximum size as well and Tucker would wrap himself up in her hair to keep himself warm even though the nights were relatively mild in the Summer Lands.
Jessica's hair felt like silk when he lay them over him like a blanket. Her hair was long and full and each brown strand was strong as well. He had sometimes gotten lost in her hair when they were younger but he knew that his giantess for a best friend would always find him no matter how lost and tangled he got.
On the first night of their journey down to July Tucker had fallen asleep relatively quickly while Jessica just looked up to the starry sky above her. She wondered some nights if she would ever meet anyone like her and if she did what would they be like? Would they use their size and strength to benefit people like she tried to do or would they use their superior size to downtrodden the so called little people. She also thought that if one day she would grow tall enough to reach the stars and bring them to the ground. She had heard legends about people who had been to the stars but she didn't believe them at all. But eventually fatigue did step in and her large eyelids closed over her hazel eyes and she soundly fell asleep before she even knew it.
It was not until the fourth day of travelling before the pair could see the walled city of July over the horizon. As was expected when they were a few miles out Jessica shrank down to her smallest size so that they wouldn't attract too much attention. She had been used to doing this for some time and she didn't mind doing this.
One strange thing that she could feel was the sensation that she was being drawn towards the city. She didn't know why but it felt like an invisible hand was pushing her closer and closer to the city and it was one of the oddest sensations that she had ever felt. She didn't tell Tucker this though and she could feel the gold necklace that she was wearing begin to hum from time to time. She had barely been noticing the necklace and hadn't even questioned how it had changed size with her when all other jewellery had remained the same. This was why Jessica never wore jewellery unless she knew that she was going to stay at her minimum size for a considerable amount of time.
Even though July was a walled city the pair had been able to spot numerous tall buildings from a distance and the mightiest of these was a castle that was the official seat of the Lord of July. They couldn't see too much detail from where they were but it was definitely one of the largest castles in Angleland even though everyone knew that the castle at Royal City was the largest. The sun shining on the city gave it a golden colour and also helped it be nicknamed the City Of Gold.
As Tucker and Jessica walked closer and closer to July they could hear the numerous folks who lived in the city go about their day to day lives. Since the city was walled none of them had been able to see Jessica t her full size miles away so none of them would have been afraid to see her as she entered the city. The only thing that would turn their heads at this moment was that she was most likely the tallest person in Angleland even before she started growing.
One thing that July was notorious for in recent years was gambling. Since the new Lord of July had taken power he had legalized official gambling and there were buildings created especially for gambling and the owners were extremely wealthy. A small percentage of the profits however were fed back to the Lord himself and this was another reason why he was such a wealthy man. It was rumoured that he could buy Royal City if he so pleased but in truth he was still loyal to the royal family so something like that would most likely never happen.
It took about an hour or so of walking before Tucker and Jessica actually reached the gates that led into July. These gates were huge and they looked to be brand new, Tucker could tell that the steel that made them was very strong and could probably hold out for a long time if the city was under siege. In times of war these gates were closed but at this time of peace they were open so that people could freely walk in and out as they pleased. There were numerous guards stationed at these gates who checked each person as they came and went. There were people who were wanted for numerous different crimes and they would either be picked up as they tried to enter the city or captured if they tried to leave.
As Tucker stepped towards the gate he was checked over by one of the guards. It wasn't illegal to be carrying a sword or a shield in the city but he did look a little similar to a man who was wanted by the Lord of July. They had numerous wanted posted inside what seemed to be a large book and as the guard flicked through them some of these posters had a huge X drawn through them indicating that that certain individual had been caught.
Eventually the guard was able to find the poster that he thought looked a little like Tucker but after going over it he realised that this was not the same person. Tucker was too short to be the man that was on the poster and he also had all of his fingers intact.
When Jessica tried to go through what happened was unexpected. Most of the guards marvelled over her height and she would look down at them with a smile. Inside their armour the guards were thankful that she couldn't see their faces. If she could she would probably see that there was something odd about them. In their armour the guards were not too hot since they were used to the head and could still function well.
It was a relatively short guard who had to stop Jessica so that he could ask her a couple of questions. This was not standard procedure for everyone but they had their orders when it came to women of Jessica's height. The last thing he wanted to do was to go back on the word of his Lord.
"State your name my dear and where you are from," said the Guard as he was having to look up at Jessica. The height difference between them was almost laughable but for Jessica it was nothing that she hadn't seen before.
"My name is Jessica Snape and I come from Morgan," replied Jessica complying with the guard. The guard himself had never been or heard of Morgan so he just kept it to himself before carrying on with the questions.
"What business do you have in the City Of July today?"
"I have been sent to give a message to the Lord of July himself." From her pocket she took out the envelope that contained the message that the old woman had given her in Lake Town. It had a couple of dents in it but other than that it was perfectly fine.
"I see and what exactly is this message?"
"I'm not sure, I was told to give it to the Lord of July and I haven't looked at the message itself."
"Ok." The guard looked at Jessica again and he knew what was going on. He saw the necklace around her neck and he fully understood what was happening. He kept quiet about it however and just kept going with his duties. "Everything seems to be in order here, you can take the message to the castle itself and Lord Nostory will be more than happy to take it off your hands. For your efforts he will reward you and he might even allow you to spend a night at the castle before you move on. Now move along please and have a pleasant stay in July my dear."
With that Jessica walked through the gates and the sight that she saw took her breath away. From a distance she hadn't been able to see the buildings behind the walls of the city but now that she could she marvelled over their beauty. It seemed that each building was designed by a major landscaper and with the warm sun shining down upon them she thought that the bricks were actually made of gold. Most of the buildings were only single floor but there were numerous that were two and three storey buildings. There were beautiful bursts of colour from the plants and flowers that grew on the buildings and it looked like something that had jumped straight out of a painting. One thing that had escaped Jessica's notice was that the guard who had spoken to her started to quietly speak to a man who was a messenger and within moments the messenger quickly ran away to take the message to Lord Nostory as quickly as he could.
The building that definitely stood out was the great castle that located near the back of the city. It was the tallest building in the city and Jessica thought that even at her maximum height it would still be taller than her. It stood in the city like a colossus watching over the common folk and it was easy to see why Lord Nostory had wanted it so badly, it was the jewel in the crown that was July with its mighty towers and solid looking fortifications. It looked to take a strong armour to be able to conquer the castle. One thing that was strange to her though was that it felt like something was drawing her towards the castle. She had only glanced at it for the first time now but she felt like she couldn't stop herself walking towards it.
Almost no sooner had she walked through the gate she saw Tucker there waiting for her. Since he had not been anyone of any real interest he had been let through relatively easy. After it was determined that he was not the man that was wanted he was free to go through as much as he pleased. He could see the somewhat far off look in Jessica's eyes and she was about to walk straight passed him but he held onto her hand and this seemed to snap the towering woman back to reality.
"Are you alright Jessica?" asked Tucker with a smile on his face thinking that she was just being a little goofy. "You're kind of zoning out on me here."
"I-I'm fine," replied Jessica as she began to realise exactly what was happening and it was like a small relief to her. "I think I kind of lost my head there for a moment." She gave him a smile back to show that she was alright. "Now shall we go to see the Lord first or do you want to get a bite to eat? I don't know about you but I'm so hungry that I could eat an entire cow."
They both laughed at this but it wasn't because Jessica had made a bad joke but because it was true. Jessica had been known to have eaten enough food to qualify as an entire cow and then some. Never at her smallest size but it was still something that had brought a chuckle out of the two old friends.
It was not hard to find a tavern that the pair could eat in. The tavern was also doubling as a gambling establishment and ground floor was where people could eat and drink to their heart's content. On the top floor was where a person could sleep and the basement was where the gambling took place and where the real money was made. The basement wasn't some sleazy place where only the ne'er-do-wells go but a respected place that was both clean and always bristling with legal activity. Fortunes were won and lost down there and the majority of the time it was the tavern that made the most money.
For a gambler it was easy for them to start doing well at first but then in a few turns of bad luck could lose all their money in an instant. On the flip side there were times when someone went down there with only a couple of gold coins to their name and walk away with enough money to buy their own castle.
For now Jessica and Tucker weren't interested in gambling any of their money. All they wanted to do was sit down and have a nice warm meal together. They had been in each other's company for everyday for just over a week and yet they were yet to bore of each other. This was always a good sign of their friendship and one other good thing that was going for them was that the food in the tavern was relatively cheap in comparison to other taverns. Since the bulk of the tavern's profits came from gambling they could afford to make their meal prices a little less than other places since they didn't depend on it. This was well received by both Jessica and Tucker who had no idea of the impending danger that was coming their way as they sat down and ordered their meals.
Almost as soon as Jessica had walked in she had turned some heads but this was nothing that she hadn't been used to before. She couldn't remember the last time she went anywhere without people turning their heads and being gasped at the sight of such a tall woman. At least when she was her minimum height she was more of a being to be wondered rather than one to be feared. She always hated people being afraid of her, to this day she always claimed that she was a gentle giantess and she had earned this title on more than one occasion and yet no one had picked up the message.
Meanwhile the Messenger had ran to the castle as quickly as he legs could carry him. Normally very few people were able to get into the castle as there were guards stationed there that prevented unauthorised access. This messenger was a common sight at the castle and since he worked directly for Lord Nostory he was allowed inside without much of a thus. He even said hello to a few of the guards who were his friends.
As the Messenger entered the castle he walked past several serving woman along the way. It was common in castles for the lord to have serving women at his beck and call but there was something about these serving women, the shortest was a little over five foot ten and all the others were above that. The majority of the serving women were taller than six feet and there were some who even reached six and a half feet and beyond. Each of these serving women had been handpicked by Lord Nostory himself and many of them had not stepped outside of the castle since they came into his service and none had stepped outside of the city.
It took the Messenger a few minutes to walk through the castle that was beautifully decorated with items of great value. Each one could easily be worth enough money to buy a common man a small patch of land. To Lord Nostory he could easily afford each one of them.
Lord Nostory was located in his main hall sitting on the seat that he had fought so much for. He was a fairly young man with tanned skin and very dark brown hair. He wasn't also particularly tall himself only standing at around five foot seven. His skills with a blade were pretty laughable but he was a master strategist. He didn't need his skills with a blade to conquer the city of July, he only needed enough men and firepower to get the job done and a little bit of intelligence.
There were two serving women tending to him as he sat in his oak chair. Both women were above six feet in height and were considered to be beautiful. The room itself had very high ceiling and granite carvings on the sides of Lord Nostory's ancestors from his father all the way from his grandfather of fifteen generations back. Formally the stands had featured carvings of the former Lords of July but after Lord Nostory had conquered the city he had destroyed them all when House O'Donnell had been extinguished. It was his way of asserting himself as the new Lord. On his order there were no remnants of House O'Donnell left, all paintings and statues of any family member had been destroyed and all mention of them had been removed from the city's textbooks. Lord Nostory's takeover had been absolute but there was one problem that he had. He lacked an heir to inherit his seat after he died and many times he had been offered a daughter of a different Lord to marry but he had turned them down. None seemed to be up to his standards and he didn't care if he had to marry a common girl, just as long as he got what he wanted.
The Messenger walked up to the seat and knelt down right in front of Lord Nostory. His head was bowed in submission to his High Lord and he didn't want to do anything that might upset him. A few people who had personally insulted Lord Nostory were sent down into the dungeons and many of them were never seen again.
"My Lord I bring you news from Carter who is stationed at the city's north gates," said the Messenger as he looked up to his High Lord.
"Speak what is it that he wishes to tell me?" replied Lord Nostory seemingly in no mood to have his time wasted. He took a drink out of his gold cup before giving it to one of his tall serving women who took it away to be refilled.
"He states that a lady who would tickle your fancy has just entered the city. He claims that she is at least eight feet tall my Lord."
"Eight feet?" He wasn't sure if what he was hearing was true. He was beginning to think that he might have misheard or if the Messenger was merely exaggerated. He had heard tales of men who were that height but in reality they were a little shy of being seven foot. "Are you sure that information is correct?"
"I do not know my Lord, but he claims that she is also wearing the necklace and has a message for you. He sent her to the castle so that she can deliver the message and that is all that he told me. I am sorry if I have not given you the information that you wanted my Lord but that was all that I was told." He didn't want to end up in the dungeon like other messengers who had failed Lord Nostory.
"You do not need my forgiveness," said Lord Nostory. There was a slight hint of a smile in his face as the serving woman brought back his gold cup but this time it was filled with rich wine. "You have served your duties well enough, you may leave now and you will find a couple of extra gold coins in your wages this week."
"Thank you my Lord." The Messenger got up to his feet and bowed to his High Lord before walking off. He didn't want to push his luck or maybe do something that could anger his High Lord. All he wanted to do was get out as soon as he could and think about what he was going to spend his extra wages on.
Lord Nostory continued to sit in his throne for several moments before slowly getting up to his feet. His two serving women stood there awaiting to hear if he had any commands for them. For them their life was now dedicated to them and although they would like their own freedom if they tried to escape they knew what would happen to them. At least under his service they were warm, well fed and had a place to stay.
"Mary inform the lads that we are having a very special guest coming along very soon," said Lord Nostory as he looked towards the raven haired serving woman to his right. "Make sure they know what preparations need to be arranged and when you are done send Katherine to my side."
"At once my Lord," said Mary as she walked out of the room. She was a very tall woman but nowhere near as tall as Jessica but unlike her Mary's height was mostly natural although a few of her inches had been added on.
"Laura I'm afraid it is that time now for you." He looked towards the other serving woman at his side who like him had colour to her skin but was an inch or so shorter than Mary. There was some fear in her eyes as he spoke as she knew what he was talking about. "Mathew is waiting for you downstairs, I wouldn't keep him waiting, and you know how he gets when his schedule is thrown off."
"O-of course my Lord," replied Laura as she moved away. She was scared of what was going to happen but it was something that she had experienced numerous times while under the service of Lord Nostory but it didn't mean it was any easier for her and she expected to feel a lot of pain.