For the next several hours Jessica walked in the direction that Sir Tucker pointed out for her. For the first couple of hours she was once again having to constantly walk up and down hills which began to tire her out. Eventually the environment around them changed and the rolling hills gave way to flat lands which was a real relief for Jessica. For as long as she lived she hoped that she wouldn’t have to climb up or down any more hills.
Sir Tucker was getting particularly excited about the next chapter as once it was complete they would discover the location of the treasure. He could imagine himself throwing money into the air and it would rain down like water. As of yet he hadn’t had the heart to tell Jessica that he would have to do the trial by himself. He thought that she would understand although he hadn’t gotten around to telling her yet.
A couple of times over the day Jessica did stop to rest and grab a bite to eat. Each time they had to find their own food since they still lacked the funds to buy food. Sir Tucker might have earned his knighthood but it didn’t bring in any additional money at that moment in time. That was something that would be coming later but for now they had to make do with what little they had.
Eventually Jessica reached a piece of land that looked very similar to what was on the map. Sir Tucker’s excitement seemed to peak as he knew that they were mere moments away from reaching the third trial. All they needed to do was find the entrance but Jessica could see the coastal town of Calf Heath just a few miles away. She would have liked to have gone there first but Sir Tucker was adamant that they completed the trial first. He had already been side-tracked enough and he wanted to get it out of the way so that they could finally go on their way to Three Men’s Treasure.
Not too long after beginning their search the pair came across a large boulder that seemed to be out of place from the rest of the scenery. It was leaning against a large hill and from the looks of it there seemed to be something behind it. Jessica tried to move it at her full size but much to her surprise it wouldn’t budge. In comparison to her it was small and she had moved boulders much larger than it in the past with no problems. She did try a few more times before finally having to admit defeat, this was one of the few times that her mighty strength had failed her.
Sir Tucker was standing on the ground and he looked at the boulder as Jessica tried to move it. He thought that he would have been able to move the boulder even slightly but this was not the case. It was as if the boulder was fused to the ground but it gave Sir Tucker an idea. This time it didn’t involve having to hit anything, he just waited for Jessica to shrink down to her minimum size and she stepped towards him.
Sir Tucker took out the map from his satchel and he took a few steps towards the boulder. He placed the map upon the boulder and at first nothing seemed to happen. It had seemed that Sir Tucker’s idea had failed but there was a rumbling sound that immediately took place afterwards.
Much to the surprise of the pair they saw the boulder begin to move as if it was being pushed by some kind of invisible hand. It was definitely a sight that was worth seeing as the enormous boulder slowly moved to one side revealing an entrance that went deep into the hillside. There was a huge smile on the face of Sir Tucker and he was eager to go inside but he knew that he would have to tell Jessica that he was the only one going inside. He just hoped that she would understand but he thought that she would given the circumstances of the trial.
“Are you ready to go in Tucker?” asked Jessica who still wasn’t used to calling him Sir Tucker so she just stuck with Tucker.
“I am but you can’t,” replied Sir Tucker as he rolled the map up and placed it back in his satchel.
“What why?” She seemed to be somewhat angered over the fact that he was saying that she wasn’t going in with her.
“I read on the map that only one person can go inside and complete the trial. If both of us went inside it would doom the both of us. I know that you’ve helped me considerably in this quest but this is something that I need to do alone.” He went to step inside but he did stop for a moment. “I hope that you can understand.”
“I-I guess so.” She understood what he was talking about and it made what she was going to do next even more difficult. “Tucker just before you go.”
“Yes.” He turned around so that he could see her but the next thing he saw was her fist as it sharply came into contact with his face. The blow was more than strong enough to knock Sir Tucker out cold in one punch. It had come completely by surprise and Sir Tucker had no time to put up any kind of guard.
“I’m sorry Tucker I really am.” Her voice was very sombre as she knew that Sir Tucker wouldn’t be happy with her when he woke up. “But I know that if you go in there you won’t be coming out.” She bent down and picked up his unconscious body and sat it up a short distance away from the entrance. She picked up the map and she gave him a little kiss on his forehead. “I hope that you can forgive me. Sleep tight my brave knight, I won’t be gone for long.”
With that Jessica took a sigh and walked towards the entrance to the trial. She knew that this might have damaged the relationship that she had with Sir Tucker but every fibre of her being was telling her that she was doing the right thing. She just hoped that one day that he would forgive her.
Carefully Jessica stepped through the entrance and no sooner had she done this she saw the boulder behind her once again cover the entrance. For a few moments she was left in total darkness before several torches on the wall began to light up without any source of fire to start it. This was something that she had seen in the other trials so it wasn’t like she was caught by surprise.
There was quite a long tunnel before her and she had no choice but to follow it to wherever it led. She knew that she couldn’t leave the way that she came and Sir Tucker couldn’t come in after her. She felt bad about what she had done but she continued to walk and she knew that she had to remain strong or else she wouldn’t leave there alive.
Jessica walked for a couple of hundred metres before she heard what seemed to be a roar coming from around a corner. She saw what seemed to be a large shadow as well and the first thing that came to mind was that it was some kind of monster. She even increased her size a little to try and make herself seem more intimidating to whatever creature decided to make its way towards her. From the shadow she thought that it was a dragon or a very large reptile that was making its way to her.
Suddenly she saw the shadow begin to shrink as the creature moved towards her and it continued to shrink until she saw the creature itself. Rather than being a large and ferocious monster it was a small lizard which wasn’t more than a metre tall and two metres long. He didn’t even have any sharp teeth or claws and he seemed to be no threat to the giant of a woman. The roars that she had heard turned out to be a chirping noise that he made but the echo in the tunnel caused it to sound more ferocious. He stood on two legs and carefully made his way towards Jessica. Rather than viewing the creature as a threat she thought that it looked cute and she squatted down to it.
“Why hello there,” said Jessica as she saw the lizard running towards her. It stopped immediately when it reached her. “What are you some kind of dragon?” The lizard chirped at her as if it was answering her question but in a manner that she didn’t understand. “I wasn’t expecting to see anything alive down here.” She did give it a stroke on the head and the creature seemed to appreciate this. “But you’re definitely one of the cutest things I’ve seen on my trip.”
The lizard seemed to like Jessica’s stroke but it still moved away from her but it wasn’t as if it was running away from her. She stood up to her full height and she could see that it was trying to lead her somewhere. She was still confused with fact that there was actually a living creature down there. She thought that there wouldn’t be a food source down there. However she couldn’t argue too much since she knew that there was some magic taking place here so she just put it down to that.
The lizard continued to move away from her but every once in a while it would turn and chirp at her. It took her a moment or two to realise that it wanted her to follow it and again she found this to be odd. She did decide to follow it and she thought that this had something to do with the test.
With some mighty strides Jessica began to move towards the lizard who continued to move away. Its pace did pick up a little but it still wasn’t moving fast enough to get away from her, it was more than capable of running even faster but it chose not to so that Jessica could still follow it.
One thing that Jessica did notice as she moved further through the tunnel was that the ceiling was beginning to get lower. When she had started to follow the lizard the ceiling had not been a problem but she noticed now that it was only a few inches away from her head. As she continued to walk she felt her head brushing against the ceiling. With each step she took the ceiling continued to become lower and lower. She had to begin to bend down as she walked but the ceiling still became lower.
The lizard didn’t notice the ceiling getting lower and he made his way through a small door that was right at the end of the tunnel. By this point for Jessica the ceiling was so low that she was having to crawl along the ground. She saw the door but she thought that it might have been too small for her to fit through.
Against her better judgement Jessica decided to try and get through the door since she knew that she couldn’t leave through the way that she came. Carefully she moved her head through the door along with her shoulders but when it came to her chest she felt what she had been dreading. She had gotten herself stuck in the small space and she tried to pull but she still seemed to be stuck. She even tried to push the opposite way so that she could escape but it was still no good. She was completely stuck and she knew that she was stuck there, she did consider growing but she doubted that it would make the situation any better. If anything it would just make it worse.
The lizard turned to see that Jessica was trapped and he turned to look at her. Carefully it made its way towards her and began to chirp at her. She was continuing to try and pull herself out but it was still no good. The lizard just chirped at her softly and even began to click at her a couple of times.
“I can’t follow you,” said Jessica. There was a small amount of effort in her voice as she was trying to free herself. “I’m stuck.” She felt the tongue of the lizard on her cheek as it began to lick her. She didn’t know whether it was trying to help her or show her some kind of sign of affection. She didn’t know if it was even intelligent enough to do something like that or not.
Jessica continued to pull but this time she felt her body budge a little. This gave her renewed hope and as she continued to pull her body was slowly making its way through the door. Inch by inch she was making her way through and as soon as her hips were through getting the rest of her legs through was easy.
When she was through Jessica gave a sigh of relief and stood back up. She felt a lot better now that she was through the door as she feared that it would be her final resting place. She saw the small lizard by her feet and she wasn’t sure whether somehow when it licked her cheek that it had helped her. For now that wasn’t important as she knew that she needed to carry on.
Jessica was able to stand up which came as some surprise and she found herself in a very large room. There were statues inside brave warriors and fearless maidens which were scattered around the room. She stared up at the ceiling but she only saw darkness above her and there were carvings on the walls around her that depicted primitive looking people battling against a great beast that she didn’t recognise. She knew that Sir Tucker would have loved to have seen all of this for himself but she hadn’t given him the chance.
She had been afraid that the test would have been too dangerous for him to tackle alone and yet so far she realised that he would have had an easier time than her. She knew that he would have had a much easier time getting through the small door than him.
Rather than continuing to think about what she had done Jessica decided that the best thing to do was to try and find out what she needed to do next to progress in the trial. She looked down at the lizard who seemed to be looking back up at her and wagging its tail. She did give it another stroke before beginning to look around.
For the next several minutes Jessica inspected the walls around this room in the hopes of finding the door that would lead them out. The only problem was that Jessica couldn’t find any way out, the only way in and out seemed to be the small door. She didn’t want to risk going through that again after what had happened last time. She decided to squat down at the lizard.
“Hey can you show me the way out of here?” asked Jessica and she put on a smile to see if it would make the lizard help her. It chirped at her a couple of times before turning and moving away. She soon stood up and began to follow him, he led her to one of the statues which were around fifteen feet tall. He chirped at her once again and she stroked his head. “Thank you.”
Jessica knew that these statues were somehow the means of her progression from the trial. From where she was standing she couldn’t see anything odd about them, the only thing that was somewhat strange was that they warriors were all the same as well as the maidens. She decided to increase her size to around twenty feet which did catch the lizard by surprise. Rather than running in terror it stayed exactly where it was and it looked at her more in amazement rather than fear.
When Jessica reached her desired height she looked at the statues once again. The warrior statues were heavily armoured and if they were real it looked like it would take an army to take them down. The maidens were all fair and beautiful and their appearance looked petite in comparison to the warriors. She also noticed one thing with the statues and that was the fact that they had numbers on their heads.
She also unrolled the map and looked at it to see if it could give her some kind of clue but it was of course much smaller she remembered. Worse still was that the writing seemed smaller as well but that wasn’t her only problem. She couldn’t read very well and often needed Sir Tucker’s help when it came to reading. It was one thing that she was somewhat embarrassed about. She knew which letters a word started with but when it came to putting them together she couldn’t do it.
That would make her feel stupid sometimes when she saw that Sir Tucker was perfectly capable of reading. She didn’t particularly like to say out loud that she couldn’t really read but it was something that she kept to herself.
Even if she could read the writing on the map it still said the exact same as what it had said to Sir Tucker the previous day. It wouldn’t help her with this puzzle and she began to fear that she might not get out. One thing that she did notice was that the warrior numbers were odds and the maiden numbers were even, she also noticed that they had all been swapped around. This was her first indication of the solution.
Jessica attempted to move the statues but even at her current size they were much too heavy for her to move. It seemed like statues were fused to the ground and she thought that even if she grew to her full size that she still wouldn’t be able to move it. She instead reverted back to her smallest size and began to think.
The lizard sat near her and looked up at her. To it she was just another would be treasure hunter although she was the first one that it had seen for some time. It was just thankful for the company since remaining there by itself for so long was very boring. It even thought that she was very pretty.
Jessica had to think even more and she began to remember a tale that she was told as a child. It was one about three maidens who were to wed three mighty warriors but on the eve of their weddings the warriors were called to war by their lord. Each man was honour bound to carry out their duties to their lord and each of them paid with their lives. Their would-be wives were distraught by the news of their deaths and it was said that rather than carrying on with their lives they opted to offer themselves to the gods in exchange for the power to end all wars.
The gods fulfilled the maidens’ request and gifted them with more power than any mortal could ever hope to achieve. However the power had different effects on each maiden, one became a paramour who was said to be the most selfless person that the world would ever see. The second maiden became evil incarnate who used her power to cause nothing but misery on others. The final maiden was the middle ground, although she possessed great power she was neither good nor evil.
Together the maidens eliminated war from Angleland and for a while all seemed to be well. Unfortunately the maidens eventually turned on each other after a series of disagreements and disputes. This led to a great battle between all three of them that eventually destroyed all three of them. Mountains were said to have crumbled during their battle and the earth itself split in two.
Once these god like maidens had eliminated each other war spread to every corner of Angleland and after a century of bloodshed each lord came to an agreement and there was finally peace. Although there had been wars since none had been as gruesome or as grand as this almighty war.
This story was supposed to have taken place thousands of years ago before any great keep or castle was even built. There were many who believed this tale to be true while others saw it as simply a fictional tale conjured up to entertain people and nothing more. For many it was hard to believe that such an event was even possible.
For Jessica she thought that this tale had some kind of relevance to the puzzle before her. She began to inspect the maiden statues again and she discovered that at their bases there was also a single letter carved into them. The first maiden had a fancy looking P letter, the second had a G and the final had a R. The warrior statues also had the same letters but once again they were jumbled up amongst them.
Jessica continued to think about exactly how she could bring the statues together. She figured that each of the maidens were supposed to be with their respective warriors but she didn’t know how to move them. It seemed that brute strength would not solve this puzzle and she would have to think her way out of it.
“What do you think’s the answer?” asked Jessica as she looked down at the lizard who was still looking up to her. It chirped at her a couple of times and it was almost like he was giving her a full response. “Who am I trying to kid, you can’t talk and even if you are I can’t understand you.” It chirped at her again and even took a few steps towards her. “Maybe there’s some way I can physically connect the statues together, maybe it can somehow solve this puzzle.”
Jessica began to think of how she could do this. She did consider growing until she could reach each statue but since she only had four limbs it wouldn’t work with six statues. Instead she thought that there was something else that she could use to be able to connect the right statues to one another.
She saw the lizard move away and rather than it just wondering around aimlessly it seemed to be travelling in a particular direction. This was noticed by Jessica who decided to take a look to exactly where it was going. She followed it for a few minutes until he came to a wall where there was something on the ground.
The edges of the room were not as bright as the centre so at first she couldn’t really make out what they were. She did pick it up and she discovered that it was something that was long and very thin. The texture of it made her think that it was some kind of rope but she did notice that it felt somewhat organic. She pulled at it and when she brought it more into the light she saw what she could only describe as some kind of vine which seemed to be alive and healthy despite them being in no source of soil or even a tree.
Rather than questioning whether this was possible she just picked up as much of the vine as she could and she wrapped one loop of it around the free hand of a warrior and she wrapped it around the hand of the corresponding maiden. She waited for a few moments and at first nothing seemed to happen.
Thinking that she had made some kind of mistake Jessica placed her hand on the vine and sudden she felt an influx of images and emotions into her head. For the next several moments all she could feel was pain and suffering but something inside of her was telling her that she was responsible for this. Rather than feel bad about what had happened she seemed to enjoy this although it went against everything that she stood for.
The sensation only lasted for a few moments before Jessica was back to herself once again and she took a step back from the vine and looked at it for a few moments. The sensation of what had just happened was still fresh and it unnerved her so much that she was beginning to question herself. She did notice that the statues that she had attached the vine to were the ones that contained the letter R.
Jessica once again thought about the story that she had been told when she was a child and she figured that she had felt this because it had been for the maiden who had been turned evil by the power gifted to her by the gods. What she had felt was something that would be attainable by someone who had been given ultimate power and yet be so willing to cause pain and misery to others.
With as much care as she could Jessica removed the vines from the statues and instead attached them to the statues that had the letter P inscribed on them. She took a deep breath before touching the vine once it was complete and once again she was overcome with images and emotions. This time rather than feel absolute terror this time she felt what seemed to be complete bliss. The world around her was heavenly and she felt that she was the cause of it, it filled her with immense happiness but she also had a firm feeling of control of everything.
Like before these sensations only lasted for a few moments before subsiding once again. Jessica figured that they were from the maiden who had become a beacon of pure goodness and hope after attaining her abilities. She was the one who Jessica had respected the most when she was younger since she showed that despite having ultimate power the maiden had only used it to help people in every way possible.
The only one remaining were the statues that had the letter G inscribed on them. It didn’t take long for Jessica to figure out that this would be for the maiden that upon receiving her abilities became completely neutral. Unlike the other maidens she was neither a force of good nor evil and was more of a balance between the two. She didn’t know how it would help in the puzzle but she felt it was definite progress.