Oblivious to what had just happened Lady O'Hare along with Jessica had reached the kitchen. The taller of the two women could smell the food that was being prepared there and it only made her feel hungrier. It hadn't been too long since she last ate but right now it felt like it had been a week.
The inside of the kitchen had a couple of members of staff who were preparing dinner for all those in the castle. This not just include Lady O'Hare but the rest of her knights as well and any other servants that she had. They were all very well fed and none of them could ever say that they went through their work hungry.
The staff in the kitchen at first didn't notice the two women enter but it wasn't until one briefly looked behind them and saw her. They both realised that she was there and quickly turned to her. They both gave her a little bow to show respect to her but they were surprised to see Jessica whose head was only inches away from the ceiling. They would have stared in amazement but instead their attention was squarely on Lady O'Hare as they waited for her command.
"My Lady," said the cook. She was a relatively short fat woman who Jessica thought probably ate more than she cooked. "Is there something that you require?" She remained respectful throughout.
"Yes as you can see my very tall friend here is hungry so would you be so kind as to cook her up something quickly?" replied Lady O'Hare in a pleasant manner. "Nothing too fancy please."
"As you wish." She then looked up and up to Jessica who felt even taller in comparison to the short woman. "Is there anything you had in mind?"
"No anything will do really," replied Jessica in a relatively quiet voice. The truth was that she would eat more or less anything within reason.
Jessica only had to wait a few minutes before the cook was able to make some soup for her. She sat down at a large nearby table and began to eat it. The soup was nice and warm and with each mouthful she took she could tell that it was a vegetable soup. Also she didn't have to worry about using both her hands to eat it. Only her right hand was needed as she continued to eat.
The bowl was only of normal size so it didn't take too long for her to finish it off and she was almost too embarrassed to ask for more. One thing that she hadn't noticed was that Lady O'Hare had left as she had been told that she needed another audience. For the moment she hadn't been told who was coming or what it was about. All she knew was that it was of some importance.
When Lady O'Hare eventually reached her seat there was a man already standing there awaiting her. He was wearing clothing that was made her see that he was a rich man, his clothing was worth more than a peasant's house. He also had a gold ring on each of his fingers and a large gold necklace around his neck. Each time he moved the necklace would swing and make a rattling sound. She found it a wonder that he was even able to keep his head up.
The man was quite handsome with coloured skin and short black hair. He would seem to be a decent catch for any woman Lady O'Hare didn't seem to be very satisfied. He had a flashy appearance but to her it would mean more if he wanted to make her his wife. She did have a thing for not wanting to marry a man who wore more gold than her.
"Greetings my Lady," said the Man. He bowed to her as he showed her his respect towards her. "I have come a very long way to speak with you today."
"I'm touched but I don't think you made that journey just to tell me that," replied Lady O'Hare. She remained in her seat and she stared at him, she didn't know who he was so for now she was willing to listen to him.
"Indeed you are right." He stood back up to his full height and looked over to her. "I am here to represent Lord Nostory, he has admired you from afar and wishes to make you his bride."
"As I already told him in my messages that I'm not interested. A simple message through raven would have been suffice."
"This time however he thought that you would appreciate it more if he sent someone in person instead. That is where I come in my Lady, he has sent me all this way purely to ask for your hand in marriage. He has also instructed me to give you a gift that he hoped would woo you." Near the back of the room was another man who wore more common clothing. After a clicking of the fingers the man approached with a small box. He opened it up right in front of Lady O'Hare. She could see what seemed to be silver ring with a fairly large jewel on its centrepiece. "This is a gift to you my dear."
"A silver ring?" She didn't seem to be all that impressed with it and she even considered throwing it back in his face.
"No my Lady the ring is made out of platinum, the rarest and most valuable metal in all the world. Lord Nostory presents it to you as a gift and he hopes that now you will consider his proposal."
"A flattering gift I must say." She took the box from the hand of the servant who then began to back away. "Go back to your Lord and tell him that I will consider his proposal. I will send a raven when I have made my decision."
"Thank you my lady and with that I shall return to July and inform Lord Nostory at once." He then bowed once more to Lady O'Hare before standing back up and confidently walking out of the door.
With the messenger gone Lady O'Hare gave out a sigh before trying the ring on. She was surprised to find that it fitted her long slender finger perfectly. She thought that it looked nice and as she took a closer look at it she began to tell that it wasn't silver. It was more of a paler colour and platinum seemed to be the most reasonable guess. She thought that it looked very pretty and she couldn't imagine how much it was worth.
Suddenly the door at the end of the hall swung open and Lady O'Hare saw Sir Tucker approaching. He had been disarmed before he had entered but she could see that there was something wrong. It was at that moment that Jessica also entered the hall from the kitchen and she was surprised to see him. However from the way that he looked and how he was walking she could tell that there was something wrong.
Quickly Jessica rushed to his side and she could see what seemed to be a small amount of blood on his back and she began to fear the worse. However she could see that he was uninjured but still relatively muddy. He didn't mutter a word before he came before Lady O'Hare. She took her focus off of her ring and actually looked at him as he approached her, she could see that he was out of breath as if he had just run the entire distance from the mine back to castle.
"Ah Sir Tucker I expect that your task was a success," said Lady O'Hare who expected to hear good news.
"No my lady," replied Sir Tucker who went down to one knee. He felt ashamed to be back but he knew that he had no other choice. "The task was too great for me to complete, the wolves still inhabit the mine."
"That is very disappointing and where is Sir Robert?"
"Dead I'm afraid my lady." He could see a streak of anger flush through her face and he began to think that he shouldn't have returned. "The mine is not occupied by normal wolves but great wolves. Sir Robert and I were able to take down one of them but we were ambushed by more. I was just able to escape with my life but Sir Robert was not so fortunate. I came here straight away to report back to you." He remained in silence as he looked at Lady O'Hare, he had no idea what she was going to do but he could see some rage bubbling under her skin. He began to think that he was going to be severely punished for failing the task and for the death of Sir Robert.
"Sir Robert was one of my oldest and most loyal friends," said Lady O'Hare. "If what you're saying is true then you were both over your heads, however if you're lying to me then you will suffer my full fury. Until that can be determined you are here by confined to a small house just outside of the castle. You will be able to do practically anything you want there except leave. If you are indeed telling me the truth then you will be released soon. However if you're lying to me your head will be on a spike outside of the castle." She then nodded to a couple of the guards who grabbed Sir Tucker by the arms. "Take him away and send a team to the mine immediately. I want to know exactly what's going on and how Sir Robert died, have Sir Laurence on standby."
"Please have mercy my Lady," asked Jessica who felt that an injustice was taking place. She completely believed Sir Tucker's story and she thought that he was being punished for no good reason.
"Believe me my very tall friend I am being merciful. Many other Lords would have taken his head off right now but I first want the truth before taking any action. You on the other hand will remain here by my side. Like your friend you are to remain in the castle until the truth can be determined. Either way you will be leaving here afterwards but whether it is with or without your friend is yet to be determined."
Sir Tucker was taken away and he didn't really fight it. He had been telling the truth and he thought that his innocence would be proved very soon. The only thing that made him sad was the fact that he was being split from Jessica once again and he could see that it was hurting her more than it was hurting him.
However rather than outright thinking that Sir Tucker was lying Lady O'Hare was still cautious. Rather than sending a small group to investigate the mine she thought that it was best to send a much larger group. If the mine had been taken over by Great Wolves then that would mean trouble for herself. Like others before her she had thought that they had died out but it seems that it wasn't the case.
Lady O'Hare also instructed that there had to be guards outside of the house where Sir Tucker was being held at all times. There would also be a couple of guards around Jessica while she was at the castle. At this moment in time she was more or less a glorified hostage in a situation that she hadn't imagined that she would get herself in. However she wasn't in any immediate danger unless she tried something foolish.
A couple of minutes later Sir Tucker was taken to the house where he would be kept for a short amount of time. It was a single storey house with one large room that had a bed, a small kitchen and a sitting area but little else. It was obvious to him that he had not been the only one who had stayed there. Numerous others had over the years but to Sir Tucker their fates were unknown. Some had been let go when they were determined to be innocent but he feared that many of them had met with the chopping block after they had left there. This thought sent a shiver down his spine.
All Sir Tucker could do was sit down on one of the chairs and wait to see what happened. He knew that he was innocent but he had a feeling that things might not go his way and he would be dubbed a liar. Normally it wouldn't be too much of a problem but since it would involve him losing his head he seriously hoped that things would work out his way which had happened over the course of the quest.
One thing Sir Tucker could normally count on was Jessica rescuing him if he got into really big trouble. However with her cast on her arm she couldn't grow so it meant that she couldn't rescue him in the traditional manner. However he did think that she would grow if his life depended on it. He really hoped that it wouldn't come to that but he could see it happening at some point.
One thing that was pretty annoying for Sir Tucker was the fact that there was no source of entertainment for him. He would be very bored while he was staying there and he could see that it was like he was in a prison cell again. He thought that this was definitely better than the cell that he was placed in while he was at July.
Inside the castle Jessica was very nervous about everything that had happened. She wanted her best friend to be safe but she felt useless. Her cast was now annoying her more than ever as she just wanted to grow and break him out. However this might cause more harm than good so for now she had no choice but to play along so to speak.
Jessica remained seated by the side of Lady O'Hare's seat as she had to judge on another matter. This time however rather than dealing with a thief she was having to deal with two farmers over a land dispute. There was a small patch of land between their properties that each declared to belong to them. The ground itself was not the best and almost useless for actual farm work but it seemed to be the principle of the matter that the farmers were arguing about.
Each farmer claimed that they owned that land and would be able to do what they pleased with it. Lady O'Hare reminded them that she was the one who actually owned all the land in Featherstone and the surrounding area. For their ignorance she didn't award either of them the land and instead commissioned it to be a garden that she could visit whenever she pleased.
Both farmers were a little unhappy with the settlement but since the other wouldn't be getting the land either they were at least happy about that. Lady O'Hare didn't particularly like dealing with that dispute, one reason why she decided to give the land to herself was because the farmers had been quite rude to her. If they had been nicer she might have been swung to award one over the other.
Jessica remained where she was sitting and hadn't muttered a single word throughout the entire hearing. She didn't think that she could say anything on the matter that would have made that much of a difference. She thought that if she stayed quiet not many people would really take notice of her.
Lady O'Hare was just about to take a break and have something to eat but before she could she was told that there was another hearing that she needed to attend. When she had become the Lady of Featherstone she had promised her citizens that if they needed to have an audience with her she would fulfil their request.
This time however she saw a little old woman entering the hall. She walked slowly and looked to be in her eighties at least. Her clothing looked ripped as if she had been wearing them for countless years. Slowly she moved towards Lady O'Hare and despite her age was still able to bow to her unaided.
"Greetings my lady," said the old woman. "Thank you for allowing me to speak with you." Her voice sounded cackled and it was like she was struggling to speak.
"As a citizen of Featherstone I have more than enough time to hear your problems," replied Lady O'Hare. "Now tell me why you have come to me this day."
"My late husband wished for me to come to you upon his death. Unfortunately for myself he died a short time ago and has instructed me to come and see you. He knew your Lord Grandfather many years ago and he wished me to bring this to you." She went into her pocket and picked out what seemed to be a small piece of cloth. She opened it up and revealed a beautiful gold ring. "Your Lord Grandfather gave it to my husband and now upon his death I return it to you, just as he wished."
"Thank you very much." She took the ring out of the old woman's hand and took a look at it. The ring was very well made and it was obvious that it was worth a lot of money. "I will treasure it. I suppose you wish for a reward for this."
"That is not necessary my Lady. I was only returning to you what rightfully belonged to you." She bowed and even Lady O'Hare was surprised that the old woman had returned the ring but had wanted nothing in return.
"But your kind deed will not go unrewarded. My coin master will give you sufficient amount of gold for your trouble and honesty."
"If that is what the lady wishes then so be it."
She bowed once again to Lady O'Hare before being led away by a few of the guards. Lady O'Hare didn't expect to receive two rings like this and although the platinum one was worth more the gold one was the one that she favoured. It belonged to her family and although she didn't know why her grandfather would give it away she was happy to see it retuned to where she felt it should be.
Jessica remained where she sat but she looked over to Lady O'Hare. A part of her was scared to talk to her but she had done nothing threatening so far. However this might all change soon, she had already sent a search party to the mine in hopes of discovering the truth. They were now just waiting for the party to return.
"My Lady may I ask a question?" asked Jessica who had a lot of caution in her voice as she spoke.
"Yes what is it?" replied Lady O'Hare who turned on her chair to look at Jessica. Once again her expression and tone of voice didn't make her seem threatening. "Is it about your friend?"
"Yes it is my Lady. I would like to ask why you decided to lock him up? I swear to you he is telling the truth."
"You might know him maiden but I don't. If I were to believe everyone who came in here I would think that money grew on trees and people could breathe under water." Jessica could see sense in her words. "The truth of the matter is until I get to the bottom of what happened I can't determine my next course of action yet. To tell you the truth I do hope that your friend is lying."
"Why would you hope for that?" She was completely taken by surprise with Lady O'Hare's comment. She couldn't think of why anyone would want to go through with that unless they were bloodthirsty.
"It is simple really, if your friend is lying to me it is just a simple case of my executioner taking off his head and the matter is done with. If he is telling the truth however that means that I have a bigger problem to deal with. As you can imagine I would prefer to have a smaller problem rather than a bigger one but of course I cannot execute your friend if what he says is true. If you are so confident that he is telling the truth then you and he have nothing to worry about."
"But for argument sake if he was lying could you spare his life? He means a great deal to me and I don't want to see him killed."
"I'm afraid not, if he is lying it means that he murdered one of my most loyal knights and then lied about it right to my face. Such an act only has one punishment, anything less would make me look weak in front of my citizens. If they think that they can get away with murder like that then anarchy might break out in Featherstone. No, my family have spent too long maintaining order in this city."
"What would happen to me if he is found guilty?"
"You will be let go and you can go back to where ever you came from. Although I wouldn't permit your presence in this city ever again. I would even allow you to take your friend's body home for a decent burial but that is all that concerns me in the matter. Does that sound fair to you?"
"Y-yes it does." She really didn't know what to say as she could see that she couldn't save Sir Tucker like she would have wanted. This was one of the times that she wished that they had just stayed in Morgan and forgotten about this whole quest. She knew that they would have been a lot safer but what they had experienced was nothing short of breath taking. Of course there had been lows during the quest but there had been unquestionable highs to go along with it. "I will pray to the gods that the truth will be unearthed and my friend can go free."
"We'll see what happens."
By then it was beginning to get late and Lady O'Hare was tired. She was prepared to have her supper and then retire to her bedchambers. Jessica was permitted to have some supper as well and she would be sleeping in her own room. Guards would be posted outside of her door so that she couldn't escape. She couldn't forget that she was technically a prisoner in the castle, it was a much nicer prison than most people had experienced but a prison nonetheless. She could never forget that.
Inside his own glorified prison Sir Tucker was lying down on the bed and looking up at the ceiling. He had taken his armour off and he was bored, there wasn't much for him to do besides just staying there and getting some rest. He thought that it would have been better if there had been someone there for him to talk to. Unfortunately this wasn't the case and he was forced to wait there until he was either found to be telling the truth or actually lying. He knew what the truth was but he hoped that Lady O'Hare would discover this soon enough. If not his life was at an end.
One thing that Sir Tucker could be thankful for was the fact that he was being fed. He wasn't given the usual slop that prisoners would have but instead a dish that even he could call a decent meal. This told him that he wasn't like other prisoners and it did give him some hope for his freedom. Right now he had eaten his fill and was just waiting until he could be released.
"What's a guy like you doing in a place like this?" asked an eerily familiar voice. Sir Tucker quickly sat up and he could see Gwen standing there. Suddenly he began to feel that the situation was going to take a sharp and sudden turn to the worse. He didn't know just what was going to happen.
"H-How did you get in here?" replied Sir Tucker with much surprise and some fear in his voice. It seemed that whenever Gwen popped up something terrible would happen to him or Jessica.
"Hello Mistress of Size here." She crossed her arms and smiled. "Do you really think that a wooden door and two guards can stop me from getting inside?" She took a few steps towards the bed and sat down next to Sir Tucker.
"What do you want? Are you here to try and take advantage of me or try to use me for some kind of desire for you?" He could only imagine what kind of plan she had in mind for him tonight."
"Most of the time I'd say you're right. But not this time. Instead I just want to talk." Her voice was very non-threatening and this caught Sir Tucker by surprise more than anything else.
"Wait you just want to talk?" To him this statement was almost as alien as a mole growing wings and flying through the air.
"Sure, of course I want to have sex and see mortals clamber over themselves to impress me but this time I just want to talk and nothing more. You have my word."
"Last time you promised me something you went back on it." That memory was still fresh in his mind. It almost got Jessica executed for a crime she didn't commit.
"You can trust me or not but you're still stuck in here whether you like it or not." By then she was sitting on the bed right next to him. He was a little uncomfortable sitting next to her but so far she hadn't done anything threatening. "So you and your friend have made up now, how quaint."
"You're the reason why it happened in the first place." There was still a small amount of anger in his voice but he had to be careful. The last thing he wanted to do was to make her angry.
"I would tell you that I'm sorry but you both know that I'd be lying. Besides you have to admit that you enjoyed it. I don't think your lady friend had ever gone that far with you before." Her smugness was really brushing on Sir Tucker but he made sure to keep his emotions in check. "But of course you can't see her since you're stuck in here and I'm actually not to blame this time." She chuckled a little. "You have to find that at least a little fun."
"I seemed to have lost my sense of humour."
"Oh don't be like that." She put her arms around him but it wasn't a loving embrace but really just so she could get closer. "Maybe there's something I can do to cheer you up. We can even go another round if you want."
"No that is the last thing I want." He only just realised what he had done when he refused her. He remembered how quick Gwen was to anger but somewhat to his surprise she remained placid.
"So why are you even here anyway?" She had seen everything that had taken place but she wanted to pretend that she hadn't. She wanted to hear from him before she made her next move Sir Tucker began to explain what happened and his words were completely true. After he finished he waited for Gwen to say something. He had humoured her in an attempt to keep her from harming him. "So that's the whole story then? This Lady O'Hare sounds like quite a handful." She then licked her lips.
"Yeah she's very stern but fair as well. She does have Jessica with her but I don't think that she would harm her."
"I don't think any mortal could really harm Jessica. But I think I might just pay this Lady O'Hare a visit." She quickly got up to her feet and began to walk towards the door. Sir Tucker quickly stood up and realised what was happening.
"Wait what are you doing?" He was more surprised than anything else as he had no idea just what Gwen was up to.
"Oh you'll find out soon enough." She didn't look at him as she continued to walk towards the door.
Before Sir Tucker could say another word Gwen had begun to shrink herself until she was small enough to fit under the door. Sir Tucker couldn't do anything and in the end all he could do was sit down on the bed and wait for Gwen to return. He could only imagine what she was going to do.