The night was almost silent as the only sound that could be heard was the rustling of the leaves as they blew in the wind. Occasionally there was the odd animal sound but, in this forest, everything seemed to be at peace. Thanks to the trees and the lack of sunlight it was very dark in this forest and yet it was not devoid of human life.
Breaking the silence were three men hurrying through the grass and between the trees at a relatively quickened pace. A tall man with red hair led the way while his two subordinates followed him closely behind. Their clothing was ragged as it looked like they hadn't been changed for some time but after what they had been through that day, they didn't really care about that.
To a normal person these men looked like normal men who were just wearing scruffy clothes. However, if they were to look at their wrists and ankles, they would have seen some red marks and bruises that encircled the entire limbs. These were the indications that they had been wearing shackles fairly recently and from the marks it seemed that they had been wearing them for a good long while.
Just a few hours before, all three of them had been in prison serving lengthy sentences. However, after some careful planning and teamwork they had been able to escape from prison and go on the run. To them the hardest part was still to come as they needed to get far away from the area. It was likely that their absence would be noticed soon and they would be hunted down like prey. Bounties for their heads would be posted all over the local area and the only way they thought that they could keep their freedom was to either go to the other side of Angleland or even flee to one of the lands overseas.
After a while the heaviest escapee had to stop for a moment. His bushy moustache was moving quite a lot as he was taking deep breaths and his face was a bright red colour. It took a moment for the others to realise that he had stopped and they quickly stopped themselves and turned around. The leader wasn't too impressed to see that his partner in escaping the prison had stopped to sit down on a large log.
"Carter what the hell are you doing?" asked the Tall Man as he looked over to the larger man.
"I-I'm sorry Jim but I can't go any further yet," replied Carter. He was wheezing as he was catching his breath and it was obvious that he wasn't going anywhere for the time being. "My mind says yes but my body says no."
"We can't stay here; we need to keep moving or do you want to go back to prison?" There was some anger in his words as he was very annoyed with the situation at hand. He didn't want to admit that he too was feeling out of breath as his desperation was what was keeping him going.
"No but we've been running for miles and I doubt they'll even realise we're gone until morning. Can't we just have a rest for now and then keep going, we're not doing ourselves any favours by running ourselves into the ground."
"He's right Jim," replied the Third Prisoner. "We could do with a break; besides I need a piss."
"Fine," answered Jim who could see the point in what they were saying and had to admit defeat. "We take a breather for fifteen minutes and then we keep going. Make our way south and then we can split up from there."
With that Jim walked over to the log and sat himself down a short distance to where Carter was sitting. Their accomplice went to do what he stated as he began to move away from the pair. He was sure that they didn't want to watch him relieve himself so he began to make his way to a nearby tree.
As he could hear the others talking, he found himself a large tree that was near by and did what he needed to do. He had been holding it in for some time as he had been running but now that they were taking a few moments to rest he felt that it was the best time to do this. He had been holding it in for some time and it felt good to do it.
One thing that the escaped convict did notice was that there was a large bush quite close to him but it wasn't anything he felt was too important. Instead he just carried on but mere moments after he started, he saw that the leaves of the bush were beginning to move as if something was inside.
At first, he was worried but he assumed that it was something harmless like a rabbit or a fox. Because of this he just carried on but just as he finished, he heard a sound coming from the bush. It did sound like an animal but not like any animal that he had ever heard before. But just as he glanced over to the bush something knocked him down from his right side and he was completely taken by surprise.
The convict grunted loudly as something big had just knocked him down and the first thing he felt was intense pain as something sharp was being stabbed into his chest. This was followed by the sensation of a warm liquid in the area of the pain. He soon realised that this was his own blood but before he could scream out in panic or pain, he saw dagger like teeth come down towards him followed by more pain in his neck. This was the last thing that he ever felt.
The attack had not gone unnoticed as the sudden thud had been heard and this got both Jim and Carter back up to their feet from the log that they had been sitting on. They quickly turned to where the thud had come from but in the darkness, they couldn't see what had just taken place. Their fellow escapee had travelled a short distance away as he didn't think that they would want to hear him urinate.
A sense of fear went down their spines as they thought that law enforcement had caught up with them. But something sounded odd, normally law enforcement would be much louder and travel in fairly large groups. This time there seemed to be nothing as there was only silence that swept through the sleeping forest.
"W-What was that?" asked Carter. He was close to shaking but kept his composure enough to keep himself from going into a full-on panic.
"Hey Simon are you alright?" shouted Jim in a fairly loud voice. He was sure that their fellow escapee would hear him. He expected to hear an immediate response but much to his discomfort there was nothing. "Stop playing around, if you don't answer we'll leave without you." There was still nothing and this was unnerving for both men.
Something about this didn't add up to Jim and against his better judgement he began to step forward to investigate the sudden disappearance of Simon. He indicated to Carter to wait there as he slowly stepped towards the tree where Simon had been urinating on. His senses were sharp as he looked out for any kind of danger.
After a few moments he eventually reached the tree and discovered something wet on the ground. However, it was not urine that he could see, it was blood and as he squatted down to touch it, he could feel that it was warm. This sent a chill down his body and as he looked at the blood, he could see a trail that led away from the tree. Rather than being foolish enough to investigate further he got up with the intention of going back to Carter as soon as possible. One thing he knew for sure was that Simon wouldn't be coming along with them.
Just as he got up to his feet, he began to hear footsteps approaching from behind. He thought that it was Carter but the footsteps suddenly began to speed up. This caused him to turn around and he only had moments to react as he saw the outline of something big leaping through the air and landing on top of him. All he was able to see where claws, teeth and a reptilian like eye before he found himself down on his back with a great weight on his chest. All he could do was scream out in terror as he couldn't fight off his attack.
His scream was heard by Carter and unlike Jim decided not to investigate. Instead he made the sensible decision to turn around and run as fast as he could. He had not recovered his stamina but he still ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Unfortunately, due to the fact that he was overweight he couldn't run as fast as he would have wanted but to him this wasn't on his mind. All he could think about was getting away and hopefully finding freedom after it was taken away from him.
Suddenly Carter felt himself get tripped over by something that he had not been able to see. He hit the ground hard and he felt a great pain in his ankle. A clear to him that he had broken it and he still tried to get up but then he felt another pain in his ankle. This time it felt more like there were knives in it, stabbing him at the same time. He could do nothing but cry out in pain but this was quickly followed by shrieks of terror as he could feel himself being dragged away into a nearby bush.
Carter screamed at the top of his lungs but this was the futile actions of a man who was on the verge of death. In the darkness he couldn't see his attacker, only the outline and even then, he was still confused. It was like nothing he had ever seen before and as he felt the stabbing sensation in his gut, he gave out one last scream but after that everything became silent besides the sound of the escaped convict being eaten by his killer.
Meanwhile in a tavern several miles away a relatively short man was quickly hurrying along with a small barrel of ale in his arms. It was heavier than he expected and he was having to use a small amount of skill in order to traverse past the drunken patrons who seemed to be enjoying themselves a little too much.
His skin was a slightly darker tone than what was common in Angleland and he didn't look too much of a threat. His clothing looked to be normal as well as he had no armour on whatsoever and didn't even carry any weapons. The only thing he was carrying besides the barrel was a backpack like carrier which contained several objects of great importance. His name was Charles and right now he was in a bit of a hurry.
The movements of this relatively quick man had not gone unnoticed. A couple of drunken men noticed that Charles was carrying the barrel of ale. As they saw a chance to get themselves a free drink, they quickly went over to him. His path was clearly blocked and since both these drunk men were bigger and stronger than him it looked as though they had little chance of getting away from them. He looked up to them nervously and he wanted to try and defuse the situation without any problems.
"Good evening gentlemen," said Charles in a relatively calm tone although there was a nervous underline to it. "I-Is there something that I can help you with?"
"Me and my friend here couldn't help but notice that you're carrying a great weight there," replied One of the drunken men. He was swaying a little as he spoke, Charles didn't know how much he had drunk but something inside of him told him it was more than enough to dull their judgement. "So, we thought that we would be kind enough to help relieve this weight from you."
"Actually, that's not a very good idea. This barrel doesn't belong to me, please just let me get by. I don't keep my friend waiting."
"I'm sure that he won't mind sharing some of that ale." One thing that they didn't realise was that there was now something behind him. It wasn't until he staggered back that he suddenly felt himself strike something that was metallic. "Hey what the hell?"
With that the drunken man and his friend turned to see what was now behind them. However, when they were at eye level with the object all they could see what looked to be a wall of metal in front of them. It took them to notice that the metal looked similar to that which could be found in the armour of a knight. It was also around the time when they realised that they were looking too low.
Slowly lifting their heads up, they could see that the large metallic body that they were seeing seemed to be going up higher and higher. Just as they thought that it would never end, they saw some locks of red hair. This was soon followed by a head that loomed high above the increasingly terrified drunkards.
At first, they thought that the armoured figure was a giant man but as they looked at the structure of the face, they were shocked to discover that she was in fact a woman. Standing at nine feet in height she was by far the tallest human being that they had ever seen and the confidence that they had felt just a few moments before. Instead it had been completely washed away as they could see the annoyed look on her face.
Although they couldn't see it, they could tell that the woman had a large frame in general. The muscles that were being hidden under the armour was enough to crush the skull of a man if she got her hands on them. But for that moment her brown eyes focused down on the two men who had been giving the squire a hard time.
"Are these men causing a problem Charles?" asked the Giant Woman. Her voice was slightly deeper than that of an average woman but was still very feminine. There was no doubt now that she was a woman and not a man with long hair.
"No ma'am," replied Charles. He knew what would happen if she wanted to start a fight so he decided that it was best to let the situation blow over.
"Good." Her eyes focused down on the two men again. To her they looked like children and this only helped her seem more intimidating to them. "Then I suggest that you go back to your drinks."
"R-Right you are," answered the other drunken man.
They might have been very drunk but even they knew when to cut their losses and run. They quickly moved away from pair and were thankful that the situation hadn't gone south. One thing was for sure was that they wouldn't bother Charles again. At least while the giant armoured woman was around him.
A couple of minutes later Charles and the Giant Woman were sitting back down on their table. The barrel of ale had been placed down before her and she had opened it up and began to drink from it. He watched as she was able to drink large amounts in one gulp, more than any man in the land.
The barrel of ale wasn't the only thing located on the table though. There was also a helmet that was large enough to fit the head of the Giant Woman and also her sword. This sword like her was very large and would take a normal man two hands to wield. It was as long as Charles's entire body and looked capable of slicing a person in two with ease. Thanks to the metal used in its forging the sword also had a zigzag like pattern on it which allowed it to stand out from the rest.
"Ms Maxine there is something that I need to talk to you about," said Charles. He had a book out from his bag and was looking over a few things. He had written something down and he didn't like what he was seeing.
"What is it?" replied Maxine just after she had taken another sip of her ale. She had only had the barrel for a few minutes and already it was half empty.
"I've been crunching the numbers and I'm afraid that we have a problem. With the gold that we've paid for our room here plus the food and drink we've got barely anything after that. We need to find a job that will pay us enough money to keep us going for a while. Other than that, we might need to sell a few things that we don't need."
"We're already on the bare essentials so we can't sell anything else. And don't even consider selling my sword or armour." There was a glare in her eye as she said this and it sent a shiver down the spine of her squire.
"I wouldn't contemplate it ma'am. But there is a village just south of here and from what the innkeeper has told me there is a job going down there. From what he's told me it's a dangerous job but one that will pay particularly well."
"And what exactly is this job?"
"I'm not sure but it's one that others have tried before and failed. It might be something that you'd be able to do, or it could be one to stay clear of."
"Does it involve hacking and slashing at something?"
"I believe so yes."
"Then it's one that I can do." She took another large sip from her drink and then placed the barrel back onto the table. It was Charles could hear that the barrel was mostly empty. There was enough ale in there to cause him to be seriously drunk. Maxine was drinking it almost like it was water. "And what is this village called, the one that posted the job?"
"Donner's Hill. From what I've heard it's a pretty nice place. Never been there though, could be somewhere to live out the rest of my days when I retire. Maybe you should consider doing the same."
"Retirement?" She chuckled to herself at such a comment. "The day I retire is the day that my body can't take this work anymore." To her sitting down and just lazing away was a stupid way to spend a life.
"As you say ma'am, but may I suggest that we have a fairly early night and then make our way to Donner's Hill in the morning. Once we arrive, we can find out exactly what this job actually is?"
"Very well and exactly how much is this job paying?"
"I'm not sure ma'am. But I've been led to believe that it is a significant amount. Enough to keep us going for a while longer. And if you think the money is not worth it, then you can always walk away."
"Very true. But before we retire for the night do, we have enough money for a pie?"
"I believe so, yes."
"Then order me a pie. I don't care what kind it is, just as long as there are no onions inside." She gave him a serious look before she spoke again. "You know what will happen if I find onions in it."
"O-Of course ma'am." It was the type of consequence that he knew was no worth even risking a mistake. "I'll get it right away."
With that Charles quickly stood up from the table and made his way to the counter once again. Maxine looked over to him and cracked a small smile as she knew that he wouldn't let her down. He had tried and mostly succeeded in practically every task that she had given him. Even ones that she had not expected him to succeed in.
Before long the atmosphere in the tavern was beginning to die down as people either began to leave or went to their rooms. Maxine and Charles remained where they were as the armoured giantess was given her pie while Charles wrote down in his book. He was not hungry and would sometimes glance up to Maxine.
As he watched her eat the pie, he could see just how much she genuinely enjoyed it. There was a constant smile on her face as she ate it. The pie itself was not all that tasty in general, if anything it was rather bland. But since it was still a pie, she was more than happy to eat it at her heart's content.
Much to her disappointment the pie was finished before she really knew it. For a normal person it was a decent size but for someone who was nine feet tall it was barely more than a snack. This annoyed her a little but it was something that she had accepted thanks to her height.
If not for her overwhelming size and strength her quest to become a knight would have been laughed off outright. There were still some who laughed at this quest as she was a woman and in the minds of many women were supposed to be maidens not knights. Any man who stated that her task was a fruitless one due to her gender mostly wound up with a few teeth missing and a broken bone.
Eventually the time did come for the pair to retire for the night as their money was gone and their fatigue was beginning to get the better of them. It wasn't long before they were shown to the room that they would be staying in through the night. Unfortunately, it was not as spacey as they would have liked.
Maxine in particularly didn't like the room, for one the ceiling was too low for her to stand up in and the bed that she would be sleeping in was designed for a normal size person. Not a woman who was nine feet tall. But for her squire there was no real issue since he was much smaller than her.
The bed that he would be sleeping in fit well for him but by now he was used to seeing Maxine struggling to function in normal size surroundings. One thing he did have to do was help her take off her armour. This was a relatively short process but he had to be careful with each part of her armour that he carried. Thanks to its thickness it was heavier than most armour and dropping it would probably incur her wrath.
Eventually the deed was done and Maxine gave a sigh as she felt how light her large body now seemed without the armour weighing her down. As she stretched her arms Charles could see the muscles attached to them. This wasn't too surprising to him, not only had he seen it before but he knew that when someone wore that much armour, they had to be strong just to move around in.
Carefully Maxine climbed into the bed and she could hear it groan as it struggled to handle her weight. This was something that neither of them spoke about but there was still some difficulty as she was lying down. Her body was far too tall for the bed so she had to sleep curled up just to fit on. It wasn't the most comfortable sleep, but at least she would be warm and not have to worry about rain. But on the morrow, she would be dealing with something that she couldn't hope to prepare for. She didn't know the danger that she would be facing or even if she would survive the experience.