Many miles away Sir Tucker was continuing to trek on the pathway with Kermit. He had a rather forgettable time with the fact that the previous night he had fought for the lives of both of them. Just a few minutes before he had encountered Gwen once again and she had forced him to give her a kiss, he knew what kind of damage she could have done if given a chance to do so. He had no idea that the demi-goddess was still on his person but just happened to be so small that she was impossible to see.
One thing that Sir Tucker could take comfort in was the fact that he knew they were on the right path. Kermit was positive that they were going the right way since he had trekked on this path many times. He was just glad to still had his throat after everything that had happened to them. He thought that he that fate had brought him to Sir Tucker as not many knights could have brought him this far.
"How much further is it to your home from here?" asked Sir Tucker who was unbelievably tired at this point in time.
"It is only a few hours until we get there," replied Kermit who to him this felt like they were on the home stretch.
"Great the sooner we get you home safe and sound the sooner that I can sit down and actually relax for a while." This was one of the longest periods that he hadn't had a proper rest. That was unless the times that he was unconscious counted as rest, he was still hurting from those times.
"When we reach my home you can rest for as long as you want. In fact you could be my personal escort if I can get the coin of course."
"No that's fine, as I said I have a friend to meet although I will rest at your place for a while. I think I might have a few blisters from all of this walking."
"Well I am surprised that you don't have a horse since most knights travel by horse. May I ask how you are able to travel great distances without one?"
"My friend helped me a lot in that department." He didn't want to go into too many details just in case Kermit became scared. "But anyway hopefully this last leg of our journey will be uneventful."
"Don't say that." There was a slight hint of fear in Kermit's voice. "You might very well jinx us with words like that."
"I don't believe in such superstition." This was true but just to be on the safe side he decided not to speak of it any further. "When we return to your home could you be able to give me a little bit of food. If you want to deduce some gold from my fee for it I'll more than understand."
"My good sir you've earned every piece of gold and more. I'd be more than happy to give you all the food that you could want."
"A simple meal would more than suffice and a place where I can comfortably sleep for a while."
"Nothing would bring me greater joy than to give to you want you've certainly earned on this day."
Sir Tucker and Kermit continued to walk down the pathway and Sir Tucker didn't want to admit just how much his feet were hurting him. He had been used to Jessica carrying him long distances but now that he was walking such a distance by himself was more tiring than he imagined. He began to feel sorry for Jessica when she trekked many, many miles in a single day. She was certainly a much better long distance traveller than he was and when they met again he would tell her exactly that.
Eventually they came to a small stream which had an old bridge to cross it. It looked to have been constructed some time ago and from the looks of it the bridge didn't look to be all that safe. Time had taken its toll on it and it looked as if it could collapse at any moment if one were to step on it.
"I think that it's best that we walk across this one at a time," said Sir Tucker as he thought that the bridge was very unsafe.
"I think you might be right my good sir," replied Kermit. "Allow me to go first, if it can support my weight it should be safe for you."
"If that is what you wish then be my guest."
Kermit almost instantly began to regret his decision as he began to walk across the bridge. He could hear it creaking with every step he took and he was afraid that it would collapse under his weight. Sweat was begin to run down his forehead as he walked and he could feel his heartbeat in his chest. If he were to fall in he would certainly drown as he had never learned how to swim.
Each step that Kermit took seemed to be like a mile but eventually he felt his feet touch down on the bank at the other side. He gave a sigh of relief as he looked over at Sir Tucker. He thought that since the bridge had been able to take his weight that it should be able to do the same for Sir Tucker.
"Ok your turn," shouted Kermit so that he could clearly be heard.
Sir Tucker slowly began to walk across the bridge and he felt pretty confident that he would cross it safely. Instead he could hear the bridge creaking once again but this time it seemed to be louder than it had been before. It made him think about moving a little faster so that he could get to the other side in better time. It was not the first time that he had been on a bridge that collapsed below him.
Fresh in the mind of Sir Tucker he could remember near the end of the second trial when he was carrying the dying Jessica across a bridge over a seemingly bottomless pit. The bridge had given way and he had grabbed the side of the pit but he had one arm grabbing Jessica to prevent her from falling. In the end he had chosen to stay with her rather than letting her go and pulling himself to safety.
As he thought about the previous bridge it took his mind off the current one that he was walking and he took each step with care and before he knew it he had safely reached the other side safely. He had not been as relieved as Kermit but he could still give a small sigh when he reached the other side.
After everything that had happened to them Sir Tucker had expected the bridge to collapse underneath them as practically everything that had happened to them had seemingly just been out to slow them down. He was glad to see that such a setback had not taken place. It made him feel like things were beginning to go their way. It was definitely a change of pace from everything else that had taken place.
The path continued ahead of the pair and they walked down it. Unfortunately it was not at the fastest pace possible but after everything that they had been through they were still travelling faster than they expected. If either man said that they weren't tired they would be lying. Sir Tucker didn't think that he had ever felt so tired and the first thing he wanted to do was just to lie down and get some much needed sleep.
The next couple of hours just rolled by and they were relatively uneventful until Kermit saw something that made his face light up. Just a short distance from the path both men could see a small stone house with a wooden roof. Kermit was more than happy to see that this house was his own and after everything the two men had just been through they had finally made it back home.
Kermit couldn't help but laugh with joy as he finally saw that their eventful journey had finally come to an end. This brought him ore joy than he could possibly imagine and he even ran towards it as if he were still a young man. This was a great relief for Sir Tucker since it meant three things to him. These were gold, food and a much needed rest. He did pick up his pace but he surprisingly couldn't keep up with Kermit who was gaining more and more distance by every passing moment.
The morning hadn't even come to an end at this point so Sir Tucker still thought that he could enjoy some much deserved breakfast. He was much hungrier than he would have been if he had even a single opportunity to eat after setting off on this small journey. He did feel like he was on the verge of collapse.
After a few addition seconds Sir Tucker also reached the house and saw that Kermit had already gone inside. Sir Tucker followed suit and could see that Kermit was calling out for his wife. He gathered that her name was Martha but much to Kermit's surprise there seemed to be no answer. However there was a strange odour in the house that just didn't seem to be right.
Kermit quickly went to the bedroom which he shared with his wife. There they found her in bed however it was not the sight that either man wanted to see. Martha lying there was not the odd thing, she looked to be a relatively old woman with flowing red hair but her skin seemed to be completely white. She wasn't moving or for the fact of it she didn't even seem to be breathing.
Frantically Kermit tried to wake his wife up but with no apparent luck. When he had touched her skin he could feel that it was cold to the touch. This was when he realised that his wife had passed on, in the space of a couple of minutes Kermit had gone from feeling extreme joy to that of extreme sorrow.
Sir Tucker didn't need to be a healer to know that Martha was dead and for the first few moments said nothing. He could see tears begin to roll down the cheeks of Kermit as he frantically tried to revive his wife. Sir Tucker took a few steps towards him and he too felt much sorrow for Kermit.
"Quickly we have to take her to a healer," said Kermit. He thought that there was still a chance that she could be saved. "If we hurry then we can save her and then we can tell her about our adventure." There wasn't much confidence in his voice and Sir Tucker knew that he was the one who would have to break the truth to him.
"I'm sorry my friend but she's gone," replied Sir Tucker with a quiet tone. He didn't want to have to tell him the truth but he felt like there was no other choice.
"No you're lying." There was a hint of anger in his voice as he spoke. "There has to be something that we can do for her."
"I would do anything I could to save her but that time has passed. Even if we took her to a healer there would be nothing that could be done. I know that it is hard to accept but your wife has gone to the next plain."
"That's not true. Please there has to be something." His voice had changed from anger to one of complete sorrow.
"There is nothing. I am truly sorry."
With that Kermit burst into tears and although he would not normally allow people to see him like this his soul was crushed to the point that he didn't care. Sir Tucker was the only one there to comfort him. At this point gold was not what was important but instead comforting a man after he had just lost the most important thing in the world to him. His life would never be the same again.
A couple of hours later Martha had been buried just outside of the house and an acorn had been planted at the head of the grave. This was so one day that a mighty oak tree would grow there and be a constant reminder of her. Sir Tucker had been the one who had dug the grave but it had been Kermit who had placed her in there. He had dressed his wife in her finest clothing and even given her one last kiss before both men buried her. It was not a duty that Sir Tucker would have liked to have done but he had carried it out anyway for the man that he now called a friend.
When Martha was completely buried both men stood near the grave and looked down at it. Kermit was still very tearful and Sir Tucker kept his head down in respect. He had not known the woman but he could see just how much she had meant to Kermit. His life was changed now and he didn't know what the future was going to hold for him now that the love of his life was gone.
"Martha was a good woman," said Kermit who felt that he needed to say a few words although Sir Tucker was the only one there to hear them. "No she was a great woman who gave me many years of great happiness, she was too good for the likes of me and now the gods have seen fit to take her from me. Although she might be gone from this plain her spirit and memory will live on from now until the end of time. She worked hard throughout her life and has more than earned her rest. Goodbye Martha, my love, my everything. May your rest be peaceful forever."
With that there was silence from the two men who paid their respects to Martha. Sir Tucker couldn't help but think about Jessica. He wasn't sure what he would do if he were to lose her. Throughout his life she had always supported him no matter what mad scheme. She had even been there when he had gotten over his head, he could still remember some of the older kids picking on him but Jessica was there to scare them half to death. Since that day none of the other kids even considered picking on him. Even now she had come onto this quest purely for him, she didn't have much interest for the treasure, she had just wanted to be with him and make sure that he was safe. Even if he became the greatest knight in all of Angleland he knew that she would still do everything that she could to ensure his safety. She was a good person with a heart bigger than her shoe size.
"Those wolf people should have sacrificed me," said Kermit. He was still in despair and he didn't take his eyes off of Martha's grave. "At least then Martha and I would have been together on the next plain. The gods are truly cruel to allow me to survive such an experience and yet take my wife from me."
"The gods may be cruel and I would be lying if I said I knew what they were thinking but there must be a reason for it," replied Sir Tucker. He looked over to Kermit who was still looking at the grave.
"And what reason might that be good sir knight?"
"I don't know and I can't really guess but it must have been something of great importance for you. Whatever it may be I'm sure that it is for the better. Of course nothing can replace the relationship that you had with your wife but there must be some deeper meaning for all of this to happen."
"Whatever it may be it still wasn't worth the taking of my wife. Maybe one day I will forget about her, maybe one day soon I might join her. Whichever way you look at it the truth is plain and simple, I am still alive and my wife is not."
They both became silent again and after several minutes it was Sir Tucker who indicated that they had to move. Kermit couldn't spend the rest of his life standing by his wife's grave no matter how much he wanted to. Instead they went back into the house and Sir Tucker was able to find some food for them to eat. It wasn't the cooked meal that they had been hoping for but it was still something to satisfy their hunger. Kermit wasn't particularly hungry after everything that had just happened. He was silent throughout but he did allow Sir Tucker to eat his fill.
After everything that had happened to Sir Tucker after he had last eaten he was extremely hungry. He tried to hide his exact hunger from Kermit in fear that it might upset the older man. It was also nice for Sir Tucker to be able to sit down and relax for a short while, he had felt like he was on the verge of collapse but he would have liked for this to have all happened on better circumstances.
"If you require me to stay here with you then I will," said Sir Tucker who thought that Kermit might need him. After everything that the older man had been through Sir Tucker thought that he might need company.
"No you have your own matters to attend to," replied Kermit. There was still much sorrow in his voice. "Besides you remaining here won't bring Martha back, all I'll be doing is keeping you here longer than you should."
"If that is what you wish then I will leave when I am ready. All I request is time to properly rest after our journey. I think you likely need to rest as well, you're not doing any favours for anyone if you're overly tired."
"I suspect that you're right there but I doubt that I'll ever truly be rested again. But if you need to sleep there is a guest room where you may rest. It might not be much but it is better than sleeping on the ground."
"Thank you, the bed will be more than suffice."
The pair finished what they were eating and they could tell just how fatigued they were. At this point Sir Tucker was struggling to stay awake and simply just wanted to sleep forever. Kermit took much longer to finish what he was eating but for now he didn't feel much like sleeping. Sir Tucker respected the older man's decision and instead moved to guest room where he would be sleeping.
When Sir Tucker entered the guest room he discovered that it wasn't as bare as he had expected. There was a decent sized bed along with a small table and even a mirror on one of the walls. It was better than most inns that he had stayed in and it only made the matter of sleeping that much more enticing.
Carefully Sir Tucker took his armour off and placed it down on the ground. Even though he was only wearing light armour it still made him feel lighter when he had finally taken it off. He also placed Juggernaut on the ground but he still kept it near his bed just in case of anything. After everything that had happened during his quest he didn't want to be left vulnerable.
As soon as his head touched down on the pillow and he had covered himself with the blanket sleep came very quickly for him. It took less than a minute for him to fall into a deep and much deserved sleep. His thoughts drifted away from the real world and instead began to focus on things that were abstract. He did wonder how Jessica was but that thought drifted until he was thinking about riding a mighty horse which could breathe fire through its nostrils and had a long forked tongue.
After many hours of sleeping Sir Tucker finally woke up to find that it was late evening. Despite how late it was to him it was like it was first thing in the morning. He stretched his body and then climbed out of bed.
Before even putting his armour back on he decided to go and check on Kermit. Instead of finding the older man in bed he was still sitting in the chair where Sir Tucker had last seen him. He suspected that Kermit had gone to bed and woken up again in-between when Sir Tucker had been sleeping.
"I would say good morning but it's not exactly morning," said Sir Tucker who could see Kermit. However when he looked at the face of Kermit he could tell that the older man hadn't gone to sleep at all. "By the gods man have you been sitting here ever since I went to bed?" It almost seemed like Kermit was a zombie.
"Hello good sir," replied Kermit. His speech was much slower than it had been before and Sir Tucker could see just how tired he was.
"This isn't very good, you need to go to bed right now and hopefully you'll be well rested by the morning."
"I know I know, it's just that I really didn't feel like sleeping. Although I do think it is past time I slept."
"As do I, you're not doing yourself any favours right now. Please just go back to sleep and then you'll be able to think straight."
"Y-you're right there."
These were the only words that he could muster and in the end Sir Tucker had to help him out of his chair and help walk him to his room. There he lay down on his bed and fell asleep almost instantly, however he felt that there were a few things that he needed to say before going to sleep. Sir Tucker was standing over him and he was preparing to leave so that he could meet up with Jessica once again.
The sheets to the bed had been changed since Martha had died on them and they were going to be washed in the near future. Kermit was uncomfortable sleeping in the same place where his wife had died but fatigue was getting too much for him and he was on the verge of falling asleep.
"Thank you for everything good sir," said Kermit as he lay down on the bed. "I know that you'll be having to leave before I awake and for that I don't blame you. You told me that you had a special lady friend that you had to meet with. Cherish every moment that you have with her because she could be taken from you at any time. The gods work in ways beyond our comprehension. On the table in the other room I have left a small pouch which has the payment for your services. I thank you for everything that you've done and all I can do is wish you the best of luck for you."
"As do I for you," replied Sir Tucker. "We might have started out our journey as acquaintances but I would like to think that we finished it as friends. I am truly sorry that you lost your wife and I do hope beyond hope that you will find peace in the near future." He held out his hand so that Kermit could shake it. "Goodbye Kermit."
"Goodbye Sir Tucker, may your journey ahead be far less eventful than your journey here before."
The pair shook hands one more time before Sir Tucker turned around and left the room. He closed the door behind him and he wasn't sure exactly how Kermit would be without his wife. He thought that the older man would be very upset about it for a while but eventually he would recover and move on with his life. He didn't think that Martha would have wanted him to stay sad.
Before leaving the house Sir Tucker did pick up the gold that Kermit had left him inside a pouch. It felt heavier than he had expected and he could only guess that Kermit had given him a little extra after everything that had happened.
If Sir Tucker had been a dishonourable man he would have begun looting on his way out just so he could make a little more money. However that was not the man that he was and just quietly left. Such a thing would lower his honour and make him more of a thief rather than a knight of the realm.
As he walked outside he could see the spot where Martha had been buried. He stood by it for a few moments to pay his respects before walking on. He did hope that he could find his way back to the town where he had met Kermit and then eventually reach the spot where he planned to meet up with Jessica.
It was late evening and it was very close to being night once again. However he didn't want to wait around since after sleeping most of the day he was too awake to get any sleep and he was constantly on his guard. The last thing he wanted was another surprise attack, he was sick of those by now.
Eventually night came but since it was still almost a full moon there was still plenty of light that helped him to see. He was expecting more of the cult to try and kidnap him once again but he didn't think that they would be so foolish. He had convinced them that it was the will of the gods that allowed him to win his trial by combat and contradicting that would bring down the wrath of the gods.
Thankfully this time for Sir Tucker there was a clear path for him to take. He didn't have to go near the old bridge or the temple. It was a long road but after having a much needed rest he felt that he could easily walk the distance. He would have preferred to have been carried across the distance but alas this was something that he couldn't do.
As the hours passed Sir Tucker continued to walk and there seemed to be nothing that really struck him as being odd. It was longer than he had originally expected but nothing to really exhaust him. If anything after everything that he had been through a walk was just what he needed to clear his head.
Eventually Sir Tucker neared the spot where he and Kermit had been abducted and he kept a tight grip on Juggernaut throughout. At the slightest hint of a disturbance he would go slashing anything that moved. He would have been lying if he said that he wasn't nervous, it was his nervousness that kept him sharp and ready to react within a moment's notice. He didn't want to go through another trial by combat.
Each step that he took he listened out to anything that could indicate danger. It wasn't long before he noticed that he was at the exact spot where he and Kermit had been abducted. To look at it there didn't seem to be any signs that anything had even happened. It just looked as plain and boring as the rest of the road and it made Sir Tucker think of how such an event could happen practically anywhere.
Sir Tucker stepped away from the particular spot and just kept on walking. He was beginning to get tired after such a walk. More than once he wanted to sit down for a few minutes and get some rest but he preferred to continue on. The inn was not far and now he had enough gold to easily buy himself some warm food and nice drink of ale to wash it all down with.
The thought of having some warm food was almost torture to Sir Tucker. He still remembered when he and Jessica had been in Morgan and she had finished off the seafood challenge. She had easily eaten enough to fill three men and yet she had even commented that she still had room for more.
This made Sir Tucker think more about Jessica, he wondered what she was doing and if she had calmed down enough for them both to talk like rational adults. The last thing in the world that he wanted to do was to lose her but if she couldn't allow him to face his own problems rather than trying to protect him from everything then he wasn't sure just how they would go on. He understood that she only wanted to see him safe but he felt that he didn't need her help with everything that came his way. It was like in Lake Town when he had been battling the man who had insulted Jessica the previous night. He had the fight well under control until she had stepped in and ended it. Her heart was in the right place but he still felt that her help was not needed.
This entire short journey had just reassured Sir Tucker that he was able to do things for himself. With Jessica always there to help him the knowledge that he had been able to get himself out of deadly situations was more for his own mentality. This showed him that he truly had been capable and now that he had the honour of being a knight only furthered his acknowledgment.
Eventually he saw the lights of the village only a couple of short miles away and he would eventually find the Lone Hill Inn. By now the darkness of night was beginning to subside and soon it would be dawn. This only made his determination to get there that much more but he did realise that he had a full day before having to return to Jessica by the deadline. This gave him plenty of time to have a little fun around the village before he had to return. He was just glad that things finally seemed to be going his way.